Golden triangle of Kashmir tourism faces govt neglect

2 years on, refurbished Pahalgam Club fails to attract visitors

KHALID GUL
Pahalgam, Publish Date: Dec 9 2018 11:09PM | Updated Date: Dec 9 2018 11:09PM
Golden triangle of Kashmir tourism faces govt neglectFile Photo

Thanks to exorbitant rates and lack of proper marketing, the refurbished Pahalgam Club with upgraded facilities has failed to woo the visitors and generate ample revenue even after two years of its reopening.

Situated at the altitude of 2700 ft on the foothills of Pir Panchal mountain range facing river Lidder, the club after being refurbished at a cost of Rs 12 crore was thrown open for public in October 2015 by the then chief minister late Mufti Muhamad Sayeed.

The historic Pahalgam Club was first established in the 1960s during Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad’s time and used to be a major source of attraction for locals as well as tourists till it was gutted in a 2005 fire incident.

The refurbished club run by Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Development Corporation (JKTDC) now has a banquet hall, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a coffee shop, a four-lane bowling alley, swimming pools, separate gyms for men and women, a beauty parlour, a library cum reading room, 21 luxury suites and a Kashmir arts showroom.

The club has also an auditorium, a card room and separate area for billiards.

Tourists apart, the JKTDC has even failed to woe the locals despite having all these facilities.

“Conference Facility Centre (CFC) could have been the major source of income in the club, but the lack of proper marketing coupled with the high tariffs for booking of the hall means that hardly any major conference is held here,” an official said.

“How do you expect any private or government organisation to pay Rs 50,000 in order to hold a conference for a single day inside the club?” asked the official.

He said the rates are equally high for the visitors to avail other facilities in the club, be it stay, food or recreational activities.

“At least initially you need to keep tariffs on the lower side so that local visitors could also avail some of the facilities as they used to earlier,” an official said.  

A local activist, Mushtaq Pahalgami attributes the lack of proper marketing as the reason for the failure of the club.

“Even locals are not aware of the facilities in the club, leave alone the tourists. Whosoever used to visit Pahalgam till 2005, they would visit the club, but now you hardly see anyone there,” rues Pahalgami.

He said that despite so many easy and accessible means of marketing at their disposal, the JKTDC is not taking any initiative in this regard.

“The department should make use of social media, like Facebook, Twitter etc to attract the local, domestic and foreign tourist,” Pahalgami said.

In 2016, JKTDC proposed outsourcing of Pahalgam Club but no private player showed interest in taking over the assets.

“The corporation had kept the bids on the higher side as a result of which no one showed interest in taking over any of the assets- be it restaurants, conference hall or recreational facilities,” an official said.

Managing Director JKTDC, Asif Khan, however, said that the facility is doing as well as any other facility in the valley in present circumstances.

“I have taken over the charge recently and we are trying our best to get high-end tourists here and that naturally will mean we generate more revenue from our assets.  Yes the tariff for conference hall in Pahalgam club was a bit on higher side earlier but as soon as I took over, we revised it and now the charges have been fixed per hour,” said Khan, adding, “I am trying my best to ensure that students studying in colleges and universities come and visit the place as they used to in the old club.”

Regarding the publicity and marketing Khan said that it is mainly in the domain of tourism department.

“In 2017, the board of directorate approved Rs 1 crore for publicity and marketing and we have taken up this with the government,” Khan said.

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