The reports coming from the travel and tour industry do not augur well for the economy of the state. Most of the tour operators, with gloom writ on their faces, complain about a substantial cancellation of bookings for summer tourism in the wake of developments that followed in quick succession to the February 14, Lethpora blast.
It cannot be denied that these developments have been the major cause for the cancellation of bookings for coming summer. Nonetheless, the tourism industry that contributed ten to fifteen per cent to the state GDP has been gasping for fresh air for the last many years.
It has been only surviving because of the determination of people associated with the sector. For resurrecting the industry to its old glory, the state and the central governments have done nothing beyond taking some baby steps. The bookings from high-end European and American tourists, which immensely contributed to the economy of the state has almost come to naught.
Though we have not been able to promote the adventure tourism matching with the potential that the state offers, even then through the efforts of those engaged in adventure tourism the state attracted mountaineers and hikers in good number.
Despite travel facilities to Srinagar having improved considerably during past two decades both the state and the central tourism organizations made no efforts to revive international tourism to Jammu and Kashmir and showcase it as an all-season tourist destination.
Sadly the negative role played by some media houses has taken toll of the domestic tourism. Also, many tour operators have cancelled summer bookings. Sometime back Governor Satya Pal Malik had rightly expressed his anguish against a section of electronic media for demonising Kashmir and damaging the interests of the state through its ‘negative portrayal’.
Nevertheless, the state administration has done nothing to defeat the negative propaganda. It is time for the state administration to wake up from slumber and work for the revival of tourism.