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Tourism in Kashmir faces tough time, players hopeful of revival

Jammu and Kashmir. Photograph:( WION )

WION Jammu and Kashmir Jun 07, 2019, 01.41 PM (IST) Written By: Ieshan Bashir Wani

Tourism in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has taken a hit post-Pulwama terror attack and the rising tension between India and Pakistan.

The tourism players are seeing no hope of revival amid the several cancellations by tour groups. 

While the rest of India is reeling under a severe heat wave, the weather in the Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir is pleasant, but there are no usual tourists on the ground. The famous tourist spots are witnessing thin tourist presence with many blaming tension between India and Pakistan as main the reason. 

The tourist flow has come down drastically, threatening the livelihood of many associated with the industry. According to one estimate, five lakh people are directly associated with the tourism industry in the state. 

The state tourism department says that the industry contributes 16 per cent of the state's total GDP.  The United States, the UK, and Australia have already updated their travel advisories for the Kashmir valley, keeping the foreign tourist away too. 

"We are fighting the perception that is being created about Kashmir which is that this place isn't safe. We have to fight this and this is our big challenge right now. I want to tell every tourist, come and see our hospitality," says Asif Burza, a reputed hotelier of Kashmir valley.

The hotels are empty which has led to a crisis of sorts, as some staff has been laid off and some tourism players looking for alternative opportunities. The all-important sector of the state is now struggling and fighting to revive itself. 

"People who come here are our best ambassadors, they should tell others about their experience in the valley," says Asif, adding that GST has also kept tourists away as prices have also gone up. 

The state's tourism department is trying to reach out to people in different states of India by organising road shows and pumping money into advertising -- all in the hope that people from these states would head to Kashmir.

"After the Pulwama incident, the inflow of tourists has been affected. Then, airfields were closed, which gave a wrong signal to the tourists, otherwise we had houseboats booked till June this year," says Nasir Wani, the director tourism Kashmir. 

Now, people associated with the industry have pinned their hope in the coming month for their better future.