The Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government have together made determined efforts to revive tourism in Kashmir and make the current spring season a successful one in terms of tourist footfall and revenue.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her address to the TAAI conference in Srinagar made an emotive appeal to the people across the country to visit Kashmir and help heal the wounds here. Mehbooba Mufti pointed out that the country has left Kashmir alone during its current turmoil, while emphasising that the military operations must cease to enable peace.
Following this speech, CM Mehbooba held a high level meet and decided to press for the temporary halt of anti-militancy operations during the TAAI conference in Srinagar in order to send out a positive message. Reports said that CM Mehbooba requested the Central government that the anti militancy operations should be suspended during the current tourist season so that it is not wasted, as has been the case since Burhan Wani’s encounter in July 2016, which fuelled street protests.
TAAI president Sunil Kumar told The Sunday Guardian that the visibility of Kashmir on the tourist map will be enhanced after the conference. Kumar said that he is hopeful that tourist traffic will pick up after this conference, which was held in Kashmir after a gap of three decades. Kumar also sought the cooperation of the local people and the media in helping the tourist traffic increase. Many other TAAI conference participants told this reporter that Kashmir would have to improve its tourism infrastructure to get high-end tourists. They said that only 500-600 of the 2,000 delegates actually turned up for the conference as there were not enough five star accommodation available.
With the tulip garden thrown open on time, it is becoming one of the major attractions in spring.
At the TAAI conference, many influential tour operators said that they would try to send more tourists in the current season to the Kashmir valley. CM Mehbooba said that Kashmir was still one of the safest tourist destinations for women. With more than 13 lakh tulip bulbs sprouting in Asia’s largest tulip garden overlooking the famous Dal Lake, a feel good atmosphere was generated for the participants of the TAAI conference. Local hoteliers and tour operators are hopeful of brisk business.