They call it Paradise, I call it Home ©

Kashmir Tourism Department’s Eternal Slumber

In Development, Environment, Gulmarg, Politics, Tourism on 31 December, 2006 at 1:11 pm

An eternal and deep slumber has taken over one of the most important departments of Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department. So deep is its slumber, which will put a sloth to shame, and so self involved is this department that it makes stupid mistakes while trying to hide its almost total uselessness. But how long can it continue taking the people and more importantly the tourists on a ride in the name of the so-called development.

The department’s gradual but visible uselessness and metamorphosis into an ecological destruction agency were briefly discussed in an earlier post, wherein it was pointed out, taking the present condition of Gulmarg’s ecology as an indicator, that elevating the Director of GDA or Gulmarg Destruction (or Development) Authority as the head of the tourism department was a sure way of putting Kashmir’s fragile ecological health onto a path of total destruction. This post got the attention of quite a few gentlemen whose singular objective of commenting on the post was praising the former head of GDA.

Former Principle Chief Conservator of Forests, Abdul Rasheed Wani, agrees that Kashmir’s ecological health is under great duress.

[Abdul Rasheed Wani] believes that the policies promoted by the government are “tourism destroying tourism.” Quoting the term “attitude based tourism”, Wani says that the need of the hour is restricting mass flow of tourists to places like Gulmarg so that the fragile ecosystems do not crumble under the tourist pressure.

courtesy of the kashmir observer

In February 2006, the post May 2004 was published in an attempt to bring forth the uselessness of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department’s website for the ‘hundreds of thousands of tourists’ who flock to visit the Paradise on Earth. At that time, in February 2006, the latest departmental newsletter available was of May 2004. Possibly as a response to this blog’s post (though it’s unimaginable to even think that the department would know the existence of the internet) there are some minute changes in the website or as the office files would show: a complete up gradation of the website.

Rs. 160 Million gone!

The screen shot of the ‘about us’ page taken then:

Click To Enlarge

This page gave the annual budget figures of the department, which at that time was Rs. 160 Million, out of which Rs. 20 Million was allocated for promotion and marketing through print and electronic media.

The screen shot of the same page taken recently:

about2

The only change is the disappearance of the figures which were highlighted by this blog. Rs. 160 and Rs.20 Million have changed into ‘a sufficient amount!’ Since the tourism in Kashmir has got a flip in the last year or so, the amount would have surged a lot but instead of telling us about that, we are told it is ‘sufficient!’ Why remove the figures?

The non-functional JKTDC link

In the same post, the non-functional link to the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation’s (JKTDC) website was pointed out.

jktdc1

In the updated website the non-functional link from the ‘about us‘ page has been removed and it now links to yet another non-functional location .

jktdc2

Even though the non-functional link has been removed from the ‘about us’ page which this blog pointed out, it remains the same on this page .

jktdc3

May 2004 newsletter still not updated

It was also pointed out then that the newsletter of the department had not been updated for around two years. Its fascinating that instead of publishing a newsletter, the slumber ridden people just put a note :

We will shortly start the monthly News Letter about the various activities related to tourism in the State of J&K. The News Letter apart from giving details of new facilities, events and Tourist arrivals will also provide information about possibilities of investment in tourist infrastructure in the State. Subscription to the News Letter would be available once we go online with its issue shortly.

We know that a newsletter can only be available when it is online on a website! Given the past experience, ‘shortly’ of this department can range from two to eight years. It’s amazing how long a newsletter can take.

The screen shot taken then:

newsletter1

The screen shot of the same page taken recently:

newsletter2

We are also asked to have a look at the ‘current events’ section. The current events section, which also brands a ‘new’ bubble on the home page is a scanned page of an advertisement.

New EventsA Scanned Ad

Flashing ‘new’ bubble and the ‘new’ current events!

The boring photo gallery

The photo gallery is boring and has not been updated ever since this site has been up since 1999 , that’s almost eight years!

Gallery

The incredibility of this department

The incredibility of this department is amazing, its morbid obsession with Food Festivals is intriguing and in a conference, the Director said:

“Shah assured the delegates that tourism sector would be made part of future strategies devised by the department for promotion and development of tourism in state,” statement added.”

courtesy of greater kashmir

What else is the department supposed to do, if not promote and develop tourism in the state? Maybe organising food festivals is what it has always been meant for. Maybe cooking is what their specialty is!

The tussle that could cost the smooth conduct of winter games

Srinagar, Dec 17: A tussle has broken out between two warring groups over the formation of the Winter Games Association (WGA), casting a shadow on the smooth holding of winter games at the world famous tourist resort of Gulmarg.

He said financial assistance received from various organizations was spent without maintaining the records and on such activities, which were not relevant for the promotion of the winter games.

courtesy of greater kashmir

A department which should be ruthlessly trying to infuse new life in the tourism sector, create new infrastructure is busy fighting the internal politics.

Good governance, transparency and effective management were promised by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Chief Minister of Kashmir, but ever since he has taken over the highest executive office of the state, we realise that his priorities include maintaining a clean image, unleashing terror on students in the college campus, shedding tears when non- Kashmiris are killed in mysterious bombings and turning a blind eye when the people of the state he governs are killed for the sole crime of being Kashmiris.

The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism will continue to be in its slumber, the only possibility of change is by people’s own efforts and by demanding answers from the departments that are supposed to serve them and not rule or fight within for personal gains.The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism will do just one thing: it will speed Kashmir’s ecological destruction because of its failure to embrace the concept of eco-tourism. And embracing eco-tourism does not mean holding a press conference and talking about eco-tourism and plans on implementing it. For a department whose website takes years to be updated, one shudders to imagine how long it will take for the department to shed its slumber and walk into the light of the day, where tourism has become one of the most dynamic sectors which needs changes every other moment and not the subtle changes which try hide its inefficiency.

  1. Nothing new! It has always been pathetic.

    Reason: “Self interest speaks lot of tongues & plays all sorts of roles, even that of disinterestedness”.

  2. The apathy of the tourist department towards Kashmir speaks for itself, I have an aunt who works in Tourist department and I don’t know what are her official timing what work she does there if at all there is some work to be done.

    The job of tourist department these days is to arrange huts and cabs for the influential and leave alone the actual development as the name might suggest.

  3. I am in love with ur blog! mashaAllah good work… I just scanned thru.. came up in my google search on Sheikh Abdullah.. ;) …. will read thru inshaAllah.

    Have been “stuck” with work… but serioulsy.. love this.

    Its neat!

  4. […] ~Kashmir~ on the mess that is Jammu and Kashmir’s Tourism Department. “The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism will do just one thing: it will speed Kashmir’s ecological destruction because of its failure to embrace the concept of eco-tourism.” Neha Viswanathan […]

  5. There are lots of to priority tasks to be set right, and one important among them is the tourism in kashmir. The tourism is deeply connected to the eco-system in Kashmir. If there is an imbalance in the ecosystem, there will be no tourism inKashmir. Kashmir offers scenic beauty, rushing fresh water streams, trout fish, beautiful lakes. Lush greem meadows and snow capped mountains. The ground reality is that all these nature’s bounties are seeing a decline with every passing day. This all is because of the mismanagement of the concerned people.

    We see buss loads of tourists coming from Gujrat, Bengal and other places, with their cooking utensils, lodge in very cheap guest houses and then go sight seeing to various picnics and soil the place all over, as if by a railway track and also litter the place. This class of tourists bring more spoils than any benefit to these tourist spots. This type of cheap tourism should be discouraged, outright. They do not even shop in the valley, that they do in katra or Jammu.

    The tourist in Kashmir should be high end, who pays and enjoys the place and the local people are benefited from it.
    Another disaster to the ecology of fragile eco system is the Amernath yatra. Lakhs of people undertake this yatra and pollute the entire route to the cave. This should be properly managed and the numbers visiting should be curtailed, if the place has to be saved from disaster. Like this, one day there might be no cave at all!!

    The lakes and other water bodies also need to be saved from pollution as a pre-requisite to a long lasting booming tourist industry.

  6. […] Kashmir Tourism Department’s Eternal Slumber […]

  7. Would you mind adding a full and descriptive ma p of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It’s really surprising that its not there. Map is the identity of one region and I dont know why you shy to put it on net.

  8. Nadeem
    Google, Wikimapia, Wikipedia, Google Earth and Google maps are good recources you might want to try.

  9. Respected all , I am doing my MBA dissertation on (marketing tourism in Kashmir) from University of WALES (UK), I was stunned to know the marketing strategy of our TOURISM department no longer is acceptable in today’s competition, its kind of obsolete and I wonder how people working for such a paradise can ruin same for their personal needs.

  10. let me tell you my experience
    in year 2008 i was in dubai having exbition at global village .
    when ever I introduce my self to any person from U A E they used to tell me that they don’t know where is Kashmir , and I was quite surprised .
    then I decide to inform them I provide them information which I get from internet and other sources.
    My question is why every year Kashmir tourism spend cores of rupees without knowing how to spend in right direction.
    At least they could have book a small stall which would cost them just 5 lac and L C D and person with brochures

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