Industry questions Kashmir tourism festival fiascoes

The plans of Kashmir’s tourism department to bring many unknown places of the valley on the tourist map has failed to impress. In fact eyebrows are now being raised over the aim of organizing such yearly festivals.

The tourism department, in a bid to highlight the importance of tourist places in the valley, has been organizing many ‘festivals’ recently, but the question remains ‘do these events yield anything’?

Moreover, the department is organizing these festivals when the tourist flow in the valley is at its lowest. “There are certain flaws in it which need to be charted out. There is a dire need to organize such festivals in a proper manner,” says President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir Abdul Rouf Trumboo.

He questioned that as to why the tourism department organizes these festivals during the days when the tourism is at a low in the valley. “These festivals are organized when there are hardly any tourists in the valley. A proper plan should be charted out by the tourism department so that we can make sure that our clients (tourists) attend these festivals and can be embody the local culture and the heavenly places,” Rouf said.

For now the tourism festivals are a highly localised affairs and that too only area specific. Most of the tourism festivals organised by the government has hardly seen any tourist traffic expect for the people of the area.

Recently, the tourism department organized a three day ‘Kargil Festival’ followed by another three day ‘Lolab Festival’ in the valley. It’s estimated that the department spent a lot of money the festivals but, observers believe that the same amount should have been spent on upgrading the basic infrastructure in the Srinagar city alone.“Have a look at the Srinagar city alone. Many tourist places here are even without the lavatory facilities. But, the tourism department is not concerned about that. The modus operandi of organizing these festivals should be cleared by the department,” said, Ali Asgar, one of the travel agents.

Surprisingly, the department has been organizing the events to the places which have poor road connectivity. “The tourism department should also focus on improving the road connectivity to these places but, these festivals do help in promoting the places which are not known to the people,” said, Nasir Shah, Deputy Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance.

“What is to be seen is that what happens after these festivals are over. The department in proper co-ordination with tourism players should organize these festivals so that we can sell these places as new destinations to the tourists in the coming years. And also we can make some brochures regarding the promotion of these places,” adds Rauf Tramboo.

However, Deputy Director Tourism Azmat Ali blamed the busy schedule of the tourism fraternity for conducting such events in the off season.“All our tour operators remain so much busy in the peak days that we can’t even think of holding such festivals during the peak days of the season,” Azmat said.He said the idea of organizing these festivals is to clear the notion that Kashmir is all about ‘Gulmarg and Pahalgam’.“We want to explore the remaining portion of the Kashmir to the tourists. In future we are planning that tourists should visit the unexplored places like Yusmarg, Verinag, Lolab and Gurez,” Azmat said. [KM]

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