Promote Safety

Media reports suggest that all is not well with tourism in Kashmir



Last week J&K state tourism authorities unveiled their intentions to promote J&K as a major tourist destination. A sort of public private partnership plan was put forth to woo their support in attracting tourists. The plan became debatable when the tourism authorities came out in public with ‘unfair practices’ of those associated with the tourism sector.
As per the data, three billion tourists arrive in India annually and out of this 14 lakhs coming to Kashmir is nothing. When rest of the India earns a lot through the tourism, the share of our state, which needs no introduction as a tourist destination, is negligible. So this is an alarm for tapping the last potential available in this business.
Now coming to the shortcomings in our tourism promotion initiatives, before deliberating upon this aspect, I as a student of communication believe that one should not follow the pattern of advertising and publicity messages which our tourism department follows.  For example, the hoardings and kiosks raised across the valley by the tourism department present Kashmiris as ‘cheaters and thugs’ as the content of the message has been presented in negative sense. What we need is to sell our strengths in public and at the same time take corrective measures internally.
In other words, it was an internal communication affair. The department should have organized seminars, workshops, debates etc. for all stakeholders and apprised them about their support to plug loopholes while dealing with tourists.
Another issue is the content of message which tourism department wants to disseminate among masses across India and globe. I don’t think natures’ spots in all the three regions of Kashmir need any introduction. We need to convey that Kashmir is a safe tourist destination in all conditions. We should put across the message of safety in Kashmir without making it hostage to the conflict. Because, even in peak conflict days, Kashmir was safer than any other state of India, particularly UP and Bihar.
Another point to ponder. For quite some time now, we have observed that whatever tourism promotion initiatives have been launched in the past few years, were more Ladakh centric. For example, during the recent CBNC AWAZ, TV 18 Travel awards, the designing of the set was having more Ladakh images than other regions. A short audio visual film of 90 seconds was screened during the live show of the travel awards in which Ladakh dominated with almost 60 seconds.
Even as the distinct parts of the state - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, yield diverse religion, language and culture, they constantly interfuse with each other resulting in sparkling specimens of unity in diversity. There’s need to maintain this unity in diversity by striking regional balance while launching any tourism related promotional campaign.
We need to integrate our ‘motherhood of civilization’ tag in our promotional campaigns. We have a long and cherished history of 5000 years. Ours is a place having the highest learning point of Sanskrit and Persian where early Indo-Aryanic civilization has originated and flourished. Ladakh on the other side, has been the highest living centre of Tantrayan Buddhism. Similarly Jammu, has been the axis of Rajas and Maharajas, who have enriched the cultural, historical and social bonds of all these diverse ethnic and linguistic sections of the state.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 4 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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