Govt Hopes Ease In Western Travel Advisories On Kashmir Post G20 Meet

KO photo by Abid Bhat

Srinagar- The Union Territory administration is expecting ease in travel advisories from different countries, including the United States and other western countries for traveling to Jammu and Kashmir with the hosting of G-20 meeting in Srinagar scheduled to be held between May 22-24.

Director Tourism, Kashmir Raja Yaqoob Farooq told Kashmir Observer that the department was expecting more footfall of foreign tourists with the hosting of G-20 meeting.

“Definitely, when the foreign delegates arrive and witness a peaceful situation, all their doubts and confusions will clear. Kashmir is branded all over the world and the tourism will reach to the next level with hosting of the world leaders,” Yaqoob said.

The newly appointed director further said that the department is planning to showcase the heritage, culture, cuisine etc to the world leaders and will be taken on a sightseeing tour to Baramulla, Dachigam National Park in Srinagar, and also to the ski resort of Gulmarg.

“We are expecting over 200 delegates from the different countries to Kashmir and over 99 percent of the preparations are already done,” he added.

An official from the tourism department said that they are also expecting ease in travel restrictions following abrogation of Article 370.

It may be noted that the tourism sector witnessed a huge blow after New Delhi revoked special status of the region and divided the state into Union Territories on 5 August 2019.

The government advised the tourists to leave Kashmir and the valley remained shut for several months. Several countries including the United States then advised its citizens not to visit Jammu and Kashmir.

In a fresh travel advisory, the United States in October 2022, asked its citizens not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Do not travel to: The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest. Within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict,” said the US State Department in a statement.

In 2020, the foreigners’ footfall in the Kashmir valley received another blow following the outbreak of Covid-19 and travel restrictions.

However, the Valley received over 24 lakh tourists this year in a record footfall. The tourism official said the foreign tourists have also preferred to visit Kashmir now.

According to official data, in 2020, 3897 foreign tourists arrived in Kashmir, while in 2021, the number declined to 1615. However in 2022 around 20000 foreigners visited the region.

India is hosting the G-20 summit this year, as G-20 Presidency, the country will be inviting Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and UAE as Guest countries. Over 200 meetings are expected to be held across the country.

Srinagar city is also going to host one of the G20 events from May 22 and 24, despite strong opposition from neighbouring countries— Pakistan and China.

Notably, this will be the first international event in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370—that granted special status to the Himalayan region.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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