Governor's advisor Khurshid Ganai on Tuesday said Jammu and Kashmir Government would take up parliamentary panel report on impact of GST on J&K tourism with central government.
Ganai, who was speaking to media persons after participating in a promotional event here on Tuesday, also said it is imminent to act on the report so that local tourism is put on revival mode.
Ganai's comments came a day after the parliamentary panel report said that implementation of GST was having an adverse impact on Kashmir tourism, especially on the small hospitality and tour trade players. The report has also blamed "negative portrayal" of Kashmir for the slump in tourism.
"As the tourism advisor, I will request the honorable governor and will write to him and finance department to further raise this issue with union finance ministry. If parliamentary panel has said something like this then the government needs to take action," said Ganai.
Commenting on state's future strategy in the wake of the parliamentary panel report, Ganai said it would be "ideal to raise the issue of GST on tourism by the state during next GST council meeting". "Yes, we should take it up at the GST council meeting as well," he added.
Ganai said the focus of the parliamentary panel report that advisories put in place by various countries on Kashmir should be done away with will also be discussed with the ministry of external affairs. "In addition to the advisories, visa fees for some potential countries from where a large influx of tourists come here will also be discussed," Ganai said adding that tourism department will be holding a food festival and promotional event in South-East Asia describing it as a potential tourist market.
Earlier addressing tourists and tour operators, Ganai said the major challenge for Kashmir's tourism industry is to increase the tourist footfall to the Valley. However, Ganai expressed hope that winter tourism will provide a boost to Kashmir's hospitality industry.
"Tour trade players have been concerned that tourist flow lately has been less. But I am glad to know from them that tour inquiries for winter and next spring are on a rise. Sometime back hotel owners were complaining of very less occupancy but today tourists are thronging Kashmir to celebrate new year amid snow in Gulmarg and other health resorts," Ganai said.
Ganai said the famous Kashmiri hospitality along with "zero crime rate against tourists" makes the Valley one of preferred tourists destinations. He said 8.5 lakh visitors including 50,000 foreign tourists have visited the Kashmir valley this year.
"We need to counter the negative portrayal of Kashmir by national media. Even if there is violence in far-flung areas, it is hyped by sections of media which results in cancellation of tourist bookings. We are lucky that all tourist health resorts have a peaceful environment," Ganai said.
Ganai said it is important to remove "trust-deficit" among prospective tourists and outside tour operators for which robust promotional activity must be held, he added.