Professionalise Tourism Organisation

Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 23 2018 12:00AM | Updated Date: Jul 23 2018 12:00AM

Tourism has always been an important sector of state’s economy. It may not in reality be the backbone of the economy but it is a great service provider being a service oriented industry. According to some figures around two hundred thousand people get employment in various fields during the Tourist Season which usually lasts from March till October. However, with the initiation of winter sports in Gulmarg, the season is now almost round the year. Apart from direct employment, it also provides indirect employment to a large number of handicraft artisans whose wares are bought by the visitors to the valley. Before independence, Kashmir used to have a visitors bureau. Those days a small number of British Tourists used to visit Kashmir. However, slowly the Indian Tourist also started visiting after the permit system for entry was abolished. The figures in the recent past have even touched a couple of million tourists. Apart from numbers, the product from only relaxation and luxury changed to active tourism or what is generally called Adventure Tourism. Kashmir’s Tourism Directorate which used to have a number of specialists especially in the field of Adventure Tourism, Golf and so on, is now purely a bureaucratic and administrative set up. One needs to understand that Tourism is an important economic activity and it has to be promoted as such. It is not a charitable activity. It is better to get smaller number of well-paying tourists rather than hordes of budgeted tourists which usually results in environmental degradation. Aim should be to go for Sustainable Tourism. Incidentally, Tourism is considered to be an export industry in the sense that the Tourists bring in large amount of foreign exchange but take away only good memories and few souvenirs! The Department needs to have top professionals in various fields such as marketing and promotion; regulation of trade and redressal of complaints; experts in various fields of adventure tourism and so on. It would be worthwhile for the government to overhaul the entire organisation and bring top professionals on one hand and on the other get the already working personnel trained in various related tasks. The 64th Annual Convention of the Travel Agents Association of India in which 600 top Travel agents participated, did counter the biased reports about Kashmir situation and gave a fillip to tourist traffic. Hopefully, one expects good arrivals in winter and next year. This makes it more imperative to take an overall view of the organisation and revamp it professionally.

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