Jammu and Kashmir government may be making big announcements regarding turning around the state tourism sector but the actual situation on the ground remains unchanged. The floods last year, and the years long insurgency have taken such a heavy toll on state’s tourism that it would take a long time for this sector to recover. The government must make a real and major push to help this sector grow because it has the ability to boost the economy and create large number of jobs which are much needed in the state.
Hotels in Srinagar which suffered due to the flooding of Jehlum have yet to recover, and in majority of these the business is less than average thus delaying recovery further.
The Dal lake which was a major attraction has also suffered due to the ravages of flood needs a major makeover, and so does the large number of houseboats which dot the lake at every major point. Occupancy in houseboats and even in hotels at Pahalgam, and Gulmarg has been less than average as Nepal earthquake also has had an impact on travelling public who might have decided to stay home in such instability.
Although CM Mufti Mohd Sayeed has reiterated his resolve to boost this trade, and even called for focusing on adventure tourism, mountaineering and golf tourism as weekend packages for domestic tourists. But his focus, and vision need to be transformed into reality soon or else the major promise which tourism offers to this backward state will also be lost. There is also need to be focused on sustainable tourism as growth can be ensured only if the ecology is maintained, and tourism is kept within carrying capacity. There is also need to support the minority stakeholders in the trade who are at the bottom of the pyramid. The state government thus needs to put focus on development rather than on concentrating on issues which are only political in nature.