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Tourism scenario in J&K revives post floods

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Rituparna ChatterjeeMumbai

Nazir A Bakshi

The tourism scenario in Jammu & Kashmir seems to be picking up post the recent devastating floods affecting the state, particularly Srinagar. The impact of the floods, the worst to have hit the state in the past 60 years, was markedly felt by the tourism sector since it was the onset of the peak season for the destination. According to Nazir A Bakshi, managing director, Shiraz Travels and ex-president, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Srinagar – India, the state witnessed around 90 per cent drop in arrivals, in both national and international tourists due to the floods. “However, the tourist numbers are picking up now. We currently have a group of 400 tourists coming from Gujarat, around 20 people from Maharashtra and 16 people from Kolkata,” opined Talat Parvez, director tourism, Kashmir adding that, they are presently planning to launch a marketing campaign to promote the destination and have made recommendations to the Centre to extend support to private players in the travel and hospitality sector who have been impacted by the floods. “The Centre recently announced an amount of `100 crore for rebuilding and reviving the tourism sector. The details for this need to be submitted to the Government of India for sanction. As for extending support to the private players, recommendations have gone to the prime minister’s relief fund,” said Parvez.

The tourism ministry is also upbeat about the numbers picking up with the upcoming winter season. “Last year, we received 12.5 lakh tourists and we had targeted around 14 lakh tourists this year. But because of the floods, we are expecting to touch 12 lakh tourists,” opined Parvez. The destination witnessed more than 10 lakh arrivals from January to August in 2014. Last year, during the autumn season (from September to November) the state witnessed an average of 70,000 tourist arrivals per month. “With the recent floods, there might have been an impact on these numbers for this period,” said Parvez. “However, J&K continues to be an attractive destination and by December we hope the tourism sector will recoup,” opined Bakshi.

The hospitality sector is also seen recovering with many hotels restarting their booking process. “The losses suffered in terms of business loss and infrastructure damage has been immense and it would be beneficial if the government offers zero interest loans to the hospitality sector to help revive it,” stated Riyaz Shahdad, managing director, Welcome Hotel.

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