`Lifting communication gag prerequisite for tourism promotion’

Srinagar: A day after government formally revoked the security advisory, tourism players asked the authorities to lift the communication gag in a bid to create a “conducive atmosphere” for the tourists to visit the valley.

On Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir government withdrew its August 2 security advisory asking tourists and AmarnathYatries to leave the valley.

Secretary Tourism Naveen Chaudhary accompanied by Director Tourism Nisar Ahmad Wani Thursday held a meeting with travels agents and hoteliers to discuss strategies to lure tourists back to the valley.

A travel agent, who was a part of the meeting, told The Kashmir Monitor that the stakeholders asked the officials that no promotion was possible unless internet and mobile connectivity is restored.

“We told him (Secretary Tourism) that restoration of communication is a prerequisite for every promotional activity related to the tourism under current circumstances. All the participants told him that no bookings are possible without internet service,” he said wishing not to be named.

In the meeting, tourism players gave a detailed account of the losses suffered during the last two months of the clampdown.

“We informed the Secretary tourism that the sector has been facing huge losses for the last few years. Travel agents also individually conveyed their concerns about the repeated internet shutdowns,” the travel agent said.

Sources said secretary tourism assured the stake holders of all the logistical support in promoting Kashmir as a safe destination.

“He (Secretary Tourism) said that more promotional camps will be held to promote Kashmir. Regarding restoration of connectivity the officials said that it was a gradual process. Secretary Tourism also assured that all security measures for the tourists,” sources said.

Director Tourism Nisar Ahmad Wani said it was an “informal” meeting to hear the stakeholders. “We held informal meeting with the representatives of tourism associations,” he said.

 It was the first meeting of tourism department with the stakeholders after abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.

Considered as backbone of Kashmir’s economy, tourism is going through one of its worst phases since August 5.  Around 1.74 lakh tourists visited Kashmir in June, followed by 1.52 lakh, including 3,403 foreigners, in July, according to official figures.

The tourism department in absence of tourists and connectivity has mostly performed the role of ticketing agents for the passengers. Many ticket operators had put up their stall in the office of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) to sell the customers tickets of different airline companies.

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Self-help believer, a gadget lover and nature's admirer.
Presently Senior reporter at The Kashmir Monitor with an experience of nine years in reporting business, crime, defense, politics and environment.Have also contributed to reputed media organizations including First Post, India Spend, Forbes India

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