This valley of mountains and forests has been the source of attraction for tourists all over the world. The rush of tourists both foreign and domestic has reduced to a great extent because of total unrest here. This chaos and confusion has hit us hard. This adorable piece of land, popularly known as “heaven on earth” has been stuck in between the political war of ideologies, identities, space, and liberty.
While going through the facts, it gets clear to showcase the bottlenecks which hampered the progression of this prosperous tourism industry in our valley. Nonexistence of peace, since the mayhem of 2016, of course has whacked this flourishing industry immensely. These recent unabated and unrestrained hiccups become the nuisance not only for tourism but also for different sectors of economy of our valley. Tourism sector in Kashmir has suffered a loss of around 16000 cr. The tourism destinations and hotels both in private and government sector have been worst affected and most of the hotels are left with nought occupancy.
It is usually being conceived that tourism season in Kashmir valley starts from April and last upto October; however, it is not just for holyding in summer, in fact it is a round the year location presents snowfall in the winter, flower heads in the spring, infinite alpine pastures in the summer and beauty of red Chinar trees in the autumn. And J&K is only place with zero crime record against tourists.
Kashmir has witnessed bad tourism years up till now. After finding a thin presence of tourists at Pahalgam, and at other tourist destinations during my recent visit to some of these locations have compelled me to nurture my concern for its stagnation and decline. Only 8.5 Lakh visitors visited valley- a figure lowest in last seven years and a decline of 23% from 2017. While 2017 witnessed 11 Lakh tourists, shows a decline of 2.5 Lakh tourists in 2018. It bothers one who is associated one way or the other with this sector; nonetheless, not only tourism sector has been the victim of violence and havoc but other sectors to saw some apathy and sluggishness. These hartals, curfews, bandhs, strikes put a huge impact on tourism and other important sectors like education, building and construction work, infrastructure, labour and employment, and transport sector.
It is imperative to mention that these hartals and curfews make vehicles immobile. The motorized workshops, petrol pumps, service stations also get affected by it. Due to halting of public transport the people associated with it
(Usually poor) become the victim of starvation and helplessness. They can’t pay their EMIs to banks which in way enhances their anxiety circle and acute depression. Other areas like animal husbandry, agriculture, consumer affairs, health, banking, forests etc. to show a slowdown.
Resorting to Peace is the panacea for all evils, by maintaining peace each sector of economy in J&K will bloom again.
Apart from achieving the stability of all sorts here, we further need to tap other areas for tourism development to reduce the burden on a tourist triangle (Gulmarg, Sonmarg, and Pahalgam). It is only tourism through which we can bring prosperity and development in other sectors too. Roads, electricity, water supply, internet, infrastructure, construction of bridges, huts can be possible only by tracing the potential sites on the upper traces of the valley.
It can be the important source of income for the a rural populace, rural population in remote areas usually during winters remain jobless. No earnings make their life miserable and pathetic. Promoting rural tourism in these hilly terrains will surely serve the vital purpose of living for these poor people. The snow clad winter of Kashmir can rather be the significant source of income for rural people.
New tourist destinations like Chatbal in district Anantnag can prove potential site for adventure snow tour. Marev-wadwan site can be best accessed via Uttersoo- Brariangan route-an attractive route to travel through the jungles and mountain ranges of Kuthar valley. These scenic places are located on the remotest corners of Shangus constituency. Moments after stepping in the land of Chatbal, tourists will definitely fall in love with striking beauty of this place. The best way to explore this enchanting place is to take a natural walk to experience a strong yet pleasurable kind of closeness to the lofty mountains, lush green surroundings and sound of streams running down the rugged body of mountains.
MOHAMMAD SHOAIB is from Uttersoo, Anantnag-SHAIBM60@GMAIL.COM)