Voices concern on decrease in tourist inflow
Srinagar, May 27: Expressing serious concern over the decline of tourist arrival in the Valley, the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA) on Thursday impressed upon the Government to take measures on priority for rejuvenating the tourism sector.
Addressing a press conference, the KHARA president, Siraj Ahmad said that the maximum tourist flow of 7.73 lakhs was witnessed in the Valley in 1988.
“Since then despite of improved facilities the successive regimes have not able to attract more tourists to the Valley. As a result we have not been able to cross the mark of tourist arrival in 1988. We have over 25000 bed accommodation and luxurious eating centres but we have still failed to revive the tourism industry here,” they said.
Siraj accused the Government of failing to keep its promises and commitment to bring vibrancy to the tourism sector. “Presently the tourism scenario has changed globally and the tourism industry is occupying first place in determining the economic status of a particular place. However, in Kashmir we are lagging far behind to revive this sector despite making huge investment in raising the infrastructure,” he said.
Siraj said that there was a need to introduce Kashmir specific schemes and policies to review this most important sector. “In the entire state we have been the worst sufferers of the turmoil. So it is not wrong on our part to demand Valley specific policies,” he added.
Sharing his concerns over the growth of Tourism Industry particularly Hotel and Restaurant sector, Siraj said that they have been facing official apathy.
“The Hotel and Restaurant Industry is in an ailing condition and we deserve more focus from the government on priority basis. Although we have already identified the areas where we are seeking government’s interference but we are not getting the deserving attention,” he said.
Siraj said that the hoteliers were facing difficulties to renew registration certificates by the Department of Tourism. “When we apply for the registration, we have to undertake many formalities. We used to renew it every year. We were given to understand that it was a cumbersome process and the Government assured to renew it for five years. But the department is not adhering to the Government orders and is denying us the registration. However if we compare it with Jammu the hoteliers are given hassle free five years registration,” he said.
He said the Department has made it mandatory to obtain letter of consent from State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) which has compounded the problem.
He said that in a recent meeting held in Jammu on April 3rd attended by Minister of Tourism and Culture and convened by Mian Altaf Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology certain decisions were made which he said were not implemented well.
“It was decided that they will jointly take up the issues of laying basic infrastructure like drainage, sewage. It was also decided that Ministers will take up the issue with SPCB and the Department and make them to take a lenient view of the issues till the system is put in place,” he added.
The association members said that they have also been denied Tax holidays. “Despite assurances nothing has been done in this respect. Infact it has been increased by 1 percent. Our neighbouring state Himachal Pradesh charges just 4 percent VAT to Hotel and Restaurant industry, whereas the Valley is at present burdened with heavy tax,” they said.
“If they will not be able to give us Tax holidays atleast they should bring it at par with Himachal Pradesh,” he added.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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