Efforts by the state government to revive the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir have not yet yielded results, forcing most hoteliers and houseboat owners to cut down on staff due to very low footfall of tourists in the current winter season.
According to state tourism officials, over Rs 17 crore has already been spent to promote tourism in the state. The funds have gone into organising programmes to work out modalities with global tourism players. Even Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who also holds the tourism portfolio, visited Mumbai and met many Hollywood producers and actors to bring them back to Kashmir for shooting.
People connected with the tourist trade in the Kashmir valley feel that the Mufti government should have compensated them for the loss instead of spending money so lavishly on the events and road shows. According to tourist industry trade bodies, over 45,000 people connected to this sector have lost jobs as there is almost no occupancy in the hotels and houseboats. Most of the houseboat owners are claiming that they need immediate compensation to survive as there has been “no tourism from the past two years”. “We are starving and need some government scheme to survive,” said Noor-ud-Din Zaindari, a local houseboat owner. Officials of the Tourism Department said that they hope that the tourism industry will bounce back after the winter season.