Tourism in Kashmir is set to witness a dull season third time in a row since the cataclysmic 2014 floods. Travel agents in the valley confirmed to this newspaper that bookings for April and May are dismal, and despite a Bollywood crew shooting in the picturesque Tulip Garden, tourist footfall has not improved after being affected by last year’s summer unrest following the encounter death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.
According to news reports, actors Ejaz Khan, Ashutosh Rana and Smita Goudkar visited Srinagar to shoot for their movie Hai Tujhe Salam India. Some local artists were roped in for this film project; the crew will shoot in different locations in Kashmir. But the hundreds of families associated with the tourism sector, who saw huge financial blows in the past two years, foresee more losses.
The state government’s travel events have not brought tourists back. “We have no bookings for April and things are not encouraging for May,” Sheikh Nisar, a local travel agent, told this newspaper.
“J&K Tourism Department should fund us to go to different cities to bring back tourists,” said Mohammed Amin Bhat, a local tour operator. In the past two years, the state tourism department has spent Rs 3.87 crore, sponsoring tours of its officials for holding promotional events to bring back tourists.