Kashmir has been a famous tourist hot spot from decades owing to its amazing cultural diversity, the sheer beauty of the mighty Himalayas and the stunning and captivating land that abounds natural beauty. This beautiful green valley has attracted a horde of tourists from across the world. The heavenly redemption has carved a niche in the valley by the presence of its beauty. Splendid resorts, dense forests, mughal gardens, and snowcapped mountains all add praises to this land and have become the source of attraction for people across the globe. The valleys beauty is as much hidden as revealed, so it has to be visualized with the eyes of the soul. Much has been heard of, and ample things have been written down, in honour of this valley. Kashmir, a jewel in the crown, on the map of India, is a multi-faced diamond changing its hues with seasons. Countless holiday ideas get realized here and tourists throng it, throughout the year. Tourism forms an important part of Kashmir economy and the main source of income for Kashmiri people. From past so many years this sector has been a major contributor in the economy of the state but keeping in view the current turmoil, rising tensions, curfews, and violence it is very much clear that Kashmir, a favorite tourist destination, is no more going to remain the talk of the town.
Kashmirs tourist spots have been attracting visitors ever since they have been thrown open to them. But the recent spate of events seems to spoil what gains have been made. The ongoing turmoil has lead to a loss of almost 2000 crores within ten days and as expected could drastically affect the tourism industry. How ready is Kashmir today when the situation has already worsened and is showing no promising outcome. It has become tough to realize the implications of the turmoil on the economy of the valley as the estimated revenue often falls by a massive amount owing to its hazardous nature. According to official figures, 1.4 million tourists visited Kashmir in the summer of 2011 which generated almost 950 million dollars compared to 531 million dollars in 2006-2007. There is a directly proportional relation between the normalcy and the influx of tourists that visit the valley and provide an opportunity for the people of valley to earn and sustain. About half-a-million people are directly or indirectly associated with the tourism industry in the Kashmir region. The same quarter of previous year stands witness to the robust growth in early bookings that had been done while the pace for the same has been slow down to a large extent this year. If the ongoing turmoil continues, this would spell bad news for the summer travel season and will have huge implications on the economy too. Many people who make their both ends meet with this ongoing travel season will have to suffer a lot which would create a state of pandemonium among people who are already over obsessed by this loss and are worried about their future.
In the previous year growth of 20-25% in tourism sector was a clear indication that how tourism sector is growing in Kashmir, but this year the unrest in every nook and corner is a clear indication that tourism industry is going to get hit. This unrest has numerous effects not only on tourism sector but also on the youth who are already frustrated due to the grave problem of unemployment they are suffering from. Why all this happened, Shouldnt it be attributed to the govts improper governance that has failed in all respects to ensure that this sector doesnt get hit and the people associated with it get enough opportunities for sustenance. After the hanging of Afzal Guru certain foreign advisories have started checking out the developments in the valley that has made it clear that the disturbance in Kashmir is a clear indication of its low tourist turnover it may have to suffer from this year. The pathetic condition in the valley has led people from all over the world to have a deep thought on whether it will be safe for them to visit to a place like Kashmir: which is more or less accompanied by many disturbances, turmoils, curfews, Hartals, firings, bloodsheds and lot more. The fact that no one wants to risk his/her life to enjoy beauty cannot be discarded here. Will the curfew restrictions, calls for strikes, weekly calendars, going to affect the tourism this year and will the government swing into action keeping in view the criticality of the issue remains a question that everyone looks to have an answer of. Would the economy of Kashmir get affected or would it continue to be on the rising side, all depends on how well the govt. addresses this issue and works towards this cause. Current unrest if not stopped will lead to increasing unemployment as tourism is the industry that has the potential to generate enough employment avenues is itself getting affected by one way or the other. Let us hope that this sector that has to its credit the ability to create and sustain developmental opportunities encounters favorable conditions ahead which could then radically transform the economy of the nation. It also depends on people that what so ever may be the conditions; they should ensure that this sector does not get hit by the political unrest unless the future will be gloomy contrary to the expectations.
The writer is a Student of Management at Lovely Professional University and can be reached at: [email protected]
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