Tourism in Kashmir collapses, as stone-pelting images dominate TV

The Valley has seen a decline in insurgency-related violence in recent years but there has been a rise in street violence, mostly stone-pelting, as IndiaSpend reported on May 30, 2017. Tour operators and tourism officials argue that this violence is too sporadic and localised to affect travellers.

For tourists, however, any trouble, big or small, is avoidable. Bengaluru resident Badri Raghavan scrapped a long-awaited Kashmir vacation with his wife and three children in June 2017 though the cancellation cost was steep. The family’s plans had included a houseboat stint on the Nageen lake in Srinagar and homestay in Sonamarg.

“The tour operator insisted that it is safe but if I have all of seven days in hand for a vacation why would I spend it looking over my shoulders all the time?” said Raghavan.

Tourism figures for the Valley have had a direct link with its law-and-order situation. Kashmir was a strong favourite among national and international tourists until 1988, with over 700,000 arrivals. But in 1989, armed violence began in the Valley and the numbers dropped by 200,000. That year, there were 1,500 violent incidents which included bomb blasts and firing.

In 1990 and 1991, there were 4,211 and 3,780 violent incidents reported, respectively, thereby bringing tourist arrivals to a meager 6,287, a 98 per cent decrease from arrivals since 1989.

In 1995, violence eased in the Valley and in early 1996, assembly elections were conducted after eight years of governor’s rule. With a civilian government in place, tourist confidence too returned. In 1998, over 100,000 visitors arrived in Kashmir.

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