Srinagar, Nov 30: The J&K tourism department’s promotional blitzkrieg has suffered a major setback as the tour agents have decided not to participate in any such programme till internet is restored in the valley.
Encouraged by the recent snowfall, the department had officially come up with a list of promotional activities scheduled to take place in various states and even other countries.
The schedule, which includes 20-25 road shows and cultural events, will begin from the third week of December till the second week of February.
Last week, the department held a meeting with multiple amalgams of people associated with tourism sector inviting them to participate in these promotional activities.
A week later, these amalgams have decided not to participate in the promotional campaigns since they believe that it won’t fetch any results if the government continues with the ongoing internet blockade.
“We have decided not to participate in any promotional activity as internet and prepaid mobile services are still barred in Kashmir. Not all of our guests have postpaid connections and they really dislike visiting a place with no internet,” said a senior member of a noted travel agents association, who wished not to be named.
Tourism, the second largest industry in Kashmir, has witnessed least activities after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5. The government had also issued an advisory on August 2, calling all tourists to cut short their visitsto Kashmir.
Soon after the removal of the advisory on October 10, official figures reveal that as many as 10,000 tourists have visited to the valley.
The figure is 95% less compared to 1,85,057 tourists who visited the valley in the same period last year.
Giving details about the promotional schedule framed by the tourism department, a source who was a part of the meeting said that multiple activities have been planned by the department.
As per the list, promotion at domestic level will begin in Mumbai in the third week of December, while similar activities will be held in Thailand on January first week.
In the fourth week of December, the tourism department will conduct fairs and road shows in Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
In January first and second week, the department as per the schedule will participate in the tourism trade fairs in Nagpur and Bangalore. During the same week, tourism activities will be held in Indonesia.
As per the schedule, the department in third and fourth week will cater to the agents of Kolkata and Bhubaneswar at the domestic level and Bangladesh and Sharjah at the foreign level.
The department will be set up stalls in Chennai and Ranchi in first and second week of February month.
Director Tourism Department Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani said the department will go ahead with the promotional programme as per the schedule.
“We have finalised the schedule, which will begin after December 15. Right now we can’t sit in hibernation in absence of internet. Simultaneously we are expecting that net will be also available for tourists,” he said.
Fog disrupts air traffic for 3rd straight day
Srinagar, Dec 9: No flights could operate from Srinagar airport for the third consecutive day due to poor visibility.
The Meteorological (Met) Department has warned that foggy conditions will continue for the next 48-hours.
“There will be a slight improvement in the foggy weather on Tuesday, and then the weather will improve from Wednesday,” said Sonam Lotus, Director, Met Department, Kashmir.
He said for the last ten days Kashmir has mostly seen dry weather with a slow wind speed, resulting in foggy conditions.
Lotus said there will be a significant improvement in the foggy conditions from Tuesday.
“Significant improvement (in visibility) is expected from Tuesday onwards,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
The valley, he said, will witness light rains on December 11.
“Moderate to heavy snowfall is predicted between the intervening night of 12 and 13 December,” said Lotus.
“Below freezing temperature, calm winds (1 to 2 km per hour), more than 75% humidity, and suspended dust particles in the atmosphere are the reasons for such dense fog,” he added.
Lotus said that similar foggy conditions occurred back in November months of 2015 and 2016.
The Met Department has predicated snowfall in Kashmir from December 12 and 13 due to a fresh western disturbance.
According to a government advisory, an active western disturbance is most likely to affect the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and adjoining areas from December to 10-14, 2019.
“Under the influence of this weather system, widespread moderate rain/snow is expected at a few places of Kashmir on December 10, thereafter increase in intensity and distribution will happen.”
The weather advisory says the system is likely to cause heavy rain/snow mainly in Pirpanjal range of Jammu division (from Baderwah to Banihal), upper reaches of Kashmir (Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Baramulla and Kupwara, and Drass subdivision of Ladakh Union Territory.
“This may lead to disruption of surface and air transport including Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Srinagar-Leh National highway (Zojilla pass), Leh-Manali Highway, Mughal road and Sadhana pass and there would be a further dip in temperature.”
There has been a significant drop in temperature due to prevailing cold wave conditions in Kashmir.
The night temperature in Srinagar was recorded at minus 2.6 degrees and minus 4.2 degrees in the ski resort Gulmarg.
87% fewer tourists visited Valley: Report
Srinagar, Dec 9: The number of domestic tourists who visited Kashmir from August to November this year fell 87% compared to the same period last year, The Times of India reported on Monday. The number was 32,411, as against 2.49 lakh during August-November 2018. The number of foreign tourists fell 82% during the four-month period – from 19,167 in 2018 to just 3,413 this year.
However, November was the best month since August, with 10,946 domestic and 1,140 foreign tourists visiting the Union Territory.
The drop in the number of tourists appears to be a consequence of the Centre’s decision to impose prohibitory orders after abrogating the special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The decision was taken on August 5. Prohibitory orders are gradually being lifted.
On October 10, the Jammu and Kashmir administration lifted its advisory against tourists in the Valley. Postpaid mobile services have resumed in the Valley, but internet connectivity remains blocked.
In June and July, Kashmir received 1.62 lakh and 1.49 lakh domestic tourists. This was around 27% higher than the figures for June and July 2018.
Parvez Baba, the owner of Hotel Samci Riviera in Srinagar’s Rajbagh, told The Times of India that he has only four rooms out of 24 occupied this week. “My hotel is just three years old and I can’t afford to lose any business that comes my way,” he said. “If I charge Rs 4,000 per room, what chance do I have of getting a guest?”
JK Govt announces winter vacations for schools from Dec 10
SRINAGAR, DECEMBER 09: Government today ordered winter vacation for all Government Educational Institutions and recognized private schools up to Higher Secondary level functioning in the Kashmir Division and winter zone areas of Jammu Division from December 10 to February 22, 2020.
The order was issued in view of foggy conditions and forecast of further dip in temperature along with rains and snowfall over next week.