PUNE: In response to the number of tourists and tours to Kashmir from the city dwindling post Pulwama incident, several tourism stakeholders from the Valley are in the city, to spread the message that Kashmir is safe for the tourists.
A 30-member delegation headed by Nisar A Wani, Director, Tourism Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K Government) including the houseboat owners, hoteliers and travel and tourism sector professionals have arrived in Pune to talk to the tour operators to instil confidence and kickstart the tourism season. As Sakal Times had reported earlier, many tour operators in the city had cancelled their Kashmir tours for the season, citing the reasons of security concerns and lower number of enquiries from travellers.
“According to a recent report by the Government of India, J&K is the safest State in the country for travellers, especially female solo travellers,” said Wani while interacting with the media on Wednesday. He added, “Almost, no crimes have been reported against the tourists in the state, none targeting the tourists. Moreover, Kashmir and Maharashtra have traditionally been very connected with each other as far as the tourism industry is concerned. J&K has the privilege of receiving the highest number of travellers from Maharashtra especially from Pune.”
Confirming the drop in tours to Kashmir, Vishwas Kelkar, President, Travel Agents Association of Pune (TAAP) said that this time, the number of Pune travellers visiting Kashmir is hardly 10 per cent of the usual.
“The events in the past couple of months have certainly affected tourism. But we would like to assert that Kashmir is as safe as any other place in the country. We hope that this outreach by Tourism Kashmir helps take the number of tourists from the city up to at least 50 per cent of the usual number this time. Also, I will be taking a group of 55 to the Valley next month, a tour for which I will be present myself. I want to instil confidence in the travel agents and tourists by example,” he said. A group of 50 women travellers will also reach Kashmir in the next few days, and they will be enjoying the state in a week-long tour. This, Wani feels, will help pull more tourists.
“Tourism Conclaves are being held in various cities across India including Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad apart from Malaysia and Thailand. The entire state infrastructure including the hotels, travel and tourism professionals and people of J&K are ready to welcome tourists. The service providers are going out of their way to ensure that the tourists are comfortable and leave back with happy memories,” Wani said.