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Kashmir Tourism Department Fails Again

In Kashmir on 21 February, 2006 at 12:14 pm

The Jammu and Kashmir tourism department has failed again. It will continue failing in it's efforts becasue they are half-baked, half-hearted efforts of a department which has been unable to adapt to the changing global climate. Tourism is the key economy for many countries and they invest in advertising, unlike our tourism department that only invests in food and edibles.

The government's earlier efforts to woo Indian Film makers is of no use, and should not be repeated. Bollywood is not interested in locations, Bollywood movies survive on songs and dances. It's Hollywood that the government should try to rope in. A film shot in a war-zone will in itself be an added advantge for the movie. And hollywood pumps in money, they make movies based on locations and not based on dances and songs. And it is not security or the threat from militants that's keeping them away. It's the governments reluctance to give permission to shoot. A Hollywood crew, a couple of years back, had booked all the hotels in Ladakh to begin shooting for a movie, but at the last moment, the permission was cancelled by the government.

With google earth one can zoom in on any location on earth from just a personal computer. It would be fool-hardly to think that the film makers would show an interest for shooting just so that they could take back, for their own government, sensitive data.

The impact of Hollywood movie making on the economy can be guessed by the fact that New Zealand (where Lord of the Rings was shot) created a separate ministry to look after the affairs of that film making.

When Farooq Abdullah flies all the way to Mumbai so that he can accompany Madhuri Dixit to Kashmir, the message he sends is: Kashmiris are desperate, without self-respect.

When Mufti Sayeed is asked, at a conference he has organised to encourage Bollywood to return to Kashmir, about the return of Kashmiri Pandits and his response is errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, the message they send us is: Kashmir is nothing without the 3% pandits, take them back and let the 97% muslims go to hell!

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No award for STATE tourism players, Wazwan- a hit at TTF

NISSAR BHAT

Bandra, Mumbai, Feb 20: It was a tough experience for the Kashmiri tourism players today. That they could not bag a single award – but for Wazwan – must have made them realize the need for pulling their socks up in the emerging highly competitive tourism market.

Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) – India’s leading exhibition for the travel and tourism industry – turned a unique event when the minister for tourism of Kashmir gave away awards to tourism players of different states and countries for their achievements and well presentation at TTF, leaving the tourism players from his own state – known world over as a top tourist destination – in a state of quandary.

With a combined visitorship of over 110000 general visitors and over 5000 trade visitors, TTF presents an unparalleled marketing opportunity for exhibitors to connect directly with the largest gathering of prospective travelers and members of the travel industry. To cater to the needs of International participation, an exclusive Outbound Travel Mart (OTM) has been carved out of TTF. OTM has participation of national tourism organizations, hoteliers, Airlines, Destination Marketers and other international travel services.

JK could bag only a special award for Kashmir Food Festival by JK Tourism Development Corporation.
Kashmir Food Festival by JKTDC has pulled massive crowds with locals here relishing the Kashmiri Wazwan. A manager of JKTDC said he had received many an offer from the local businessmen inviting them to make Wazwan a round-the-year affair in the business capital of India.

Even as the stallholders from Kashmir were jubilant with the overwhelming public response, problems back home battering their minds concern them. “We don’t have the adequate infrastructure in the state,” Muhammad Hafiz Shalla, manager Whale Travel says. Although Shalla is hopeful that this year around 10 lakh tourists will come to the state, he believes that government would have to gear up to make tourism a sustainable industry in Kashmir.

Tour operators from Kashmir say if government wants to make Kashmir a real tourist destination it has to ensure the enhancement of bus, rail, and air traffic to Kashmir. “The super fast Sawraj train runs from Mumbai to Jammu only five days a week. All the days it remains overcrowded causing a lot of problems to the tourists bound for Kashmir. So the government should take up the issue with the union railway ministry to increase the number of trains from all metropolitan cities to Jammu,” they say adding that besides there should also be some special trains during the peak tourist season to Jammu. Tour operators also demand that intra-state air travel like flights from Srinagar to Leh should be increased.

Sheikh Abdul Ahad a travel agent said that the buses run by SRTC are too costly. “We have hundreds of times told them to reduce the rates and doing so would help them to gain the market. But their reluctance to reduction of rates results in the grabbing of market by private players from other states.”

Many tour operators said that the vehicles coming from other states to Kashmir are running on the local roads thereby affecting the local operators.

Most of the tour operators from Kashmir say that the hoteliers in Kashmir are charging high rates. “Government should ensure that there is uniformity in rates and the hoteliers are not allowed to take the tourists for a ride,” they say.

Kashmiri tourism players have attended this fair for the first time under the banner of Tourism Alliance – a guild of Kashmiri tourism players set up some months ago in Kashmir.

(courtesy of greater kashmir)

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