Promoting tourism

Published at October 05, 2018 12:46 AM 0Comment(s)3027views


Promoting tourism

During an interaction with the representatives of top-notch tour and travel service providers of India, Director Tourism Tasaduq Jeelani asserted that Kashmir is much safer than other places in India so far as women safety is considered, and otherwise also. While the representatives and the director were on the same page regarding the negative portrayal of Kashmir by certain media organizations, news channels in particular, the gathering couldn’t arrive at any decisive strategy to counter the negative perception. Local representatives even opined the negative portrayal of Kashmir to arise from “vested interests”. There were two points worth taking note of in the interaction. One of these points shared by all and raised by one guest representative specifically was about the apprehensions that seem to stem from the safety and security concerns – the guest himself had been asked by family as why Kashmir. True that the government, the department or travel service providers cannot go door-to-door to convince people that it is safe to travel to Kashmir. The problem that could be identified is not ignorance about the place vis-à-vis the travel experience, but the perception of insecurity, a spell that cannot be broken by promotions and marketing. The second was about the expectations of the service providers. Although the department (director) seemed noncommittal on the point to offer assurance personally to those wishing to visit the place, the question remains unanswered – who is supposed to give the final assurance that nothing will happen to travelers. From functional point of view, it cannot be tourism department as the security apparatus is outside the domain of tourism. The government and Home ministry can however play a vital role there, as it is on their shoulders the responsibility rests. Another interesting point made at the event, which many local services providers may also be aware of, was that in the last few years domestic tourism influx has been shifting southwards. Whether they are just comments that some states are deliberately boycotting Kashmir and the state, they are not good for business and even inter-state relations. Instead of promoting Kashmir as a safe destination with conventional strategies, the government and tourism department must make the travelers part of it. An exclusive platform where feedback of only travelers who have visited Kashmir should be made available for reference to the people who wish to visit the valley. The department must also publish extensive reports on the number of travelers who safely complete their travel in Kashmir each year to counter the hype of media that has pushed Kashmir tourism to bottom.    

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