Kashmir Safe Destination For Foreign Tourists, Says NCRB Report

Foreign Tourists walk on Boulevard alongside Dal Lake in Srinagar. KO Photo, Abid Bhat

‘The report will act as an eye-opener for foreign countries and will also substantiate the Ministry of External Affairs’ stance in motivating these countries to end their travel advisories for Kashmir.’

DESPITE most of the foreign countries posting an adverse travel advisory to Kashmir, the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report has substantiated the fact that Jammu & Kashmir continues to be a safe tourist destination for foreigners.

The NCRB’s “Crime in India 2020” report has revealed that there was only one case of minor offence against foreigners emerging in J&K during 2020.

The report further added that there was no case of violence, sexual assault, rape, forgery and theft reported from J&K against any foreign tourists.

In the last three years, the report revealed, J&K recorded only two cases of crime against foreign tourists.

The statistics available in the report have signified that in 2020 J&K was once again able to retain the title of Safe Tourist destination.

“It’s unfortunate that several media organisations are only portraying a negative image of Kashmir,” Talat Riyaz, a Kashmir-based Tour Operator told Kashmir Observer.

“Political conflict and the impact of the incidents on the border is being projected in such a way that foreign tourists start thinking about their safety. We’re hopeful that this NCRB report will serve as an example so that Kashmir once again buzzes up with a huge influx of high-end foreign tourists.”

Pertinently, most of the European countries, United States, Canada and Australia had issued advisories against travelling to Jammu & Kashmir to their citizens soon after the Government of India revoked the erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

“I haven’t read the report yet but if the word of mouth is to believe then we’re hopeful that this latest data will act as an eye-opener for foreign countries and will also substantiate the Ministry of External Affairs’ stance in motivating these countries to end their travel advisories for Kashmir,” Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez told Kashmir Observer.

“Kashmir’s Tourism industry has had a long tradition of hosting foreign tourists, so there is apparently no reason for these foreign countries to not allow their citizens to travel to Kashmir, given the safe-status provided to the region.”

Kashmir’s hospitality sector stakeholders who have already lost hundreds of crores as tourist footfall nosedived in 2020 say that the stories about Kashmir being unsafe for tourists are exaggerated.

“The latest NCRB report on the trivial crime rate against foreigners in Kashmir clearly shows how safe and hospitable Kashmiris are but unfortunately several travel advisories imposed by foreign Governments against Kashmir had a negative impact on the tourism industry of the region which has hampered our business,” Wahid Malik, President Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, told Kashmir Observer.

“This is an appropriate time for the government of India to take up the issue of lifting these advisories keeping in view the ground situation and NCRB data which clearly reflects that Kashmir is safe for tourists.”

Interestingly, while Kashmir’s credentials in ensuring no-crime against foreigners maintains an exemplary appearance, the report on the contrary reveals that there have been 22 cases registered against foreigners for committing crimes in J&K in the last three years.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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