Stating that Kashmir was safe for tourists and there was no post-flood epidemic threat in the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir government Tuesday declared that it will run a campaign to woo back tourist after Diwali.
Talking to KNS Minister for Tourism G A Mir said, “After heavy floods there was concern of epidemic and that is the reason we didn’t stress on return of tourists. However, joint teams of Tourism department, Srinagar Municipal Corporation and concerned offices along with their technical teams, have declared that post floods there has been no threat of epidemic.”
“Kashmir is the first place in the country where there has been no post flood water borne diseases. We want to convey people outside the state and outside the country that there is no threat of diseases in Srinagar or Kashmir,” he declared.
The Minister acknowledged that tourism infrastructure was affected by the devastating floods. “Yes it is true that all the hotels and guest houses in Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar areas were badly affected. Out of 40000 bed capacity in Kashmir, 7000 was badly affected. However, in Srinagar only we have 9000 bed capacity which is OK and safe for tourists to stay,” Mir told KNS.
Asked what steps the state government has taken to woo back tourists to Kashmir, he said, “We have to launch a campaign after Diwali that there is no threat of epidemic and Kashmir is safe for travel. With the help of Government of India and ministry of tourism we will run a media campaign that Kashmir is safe. If we don’t do that it will impact tourism season next year.”
However, the minister said that post floods there have been no tourist arrivals. “Immediately after the floods even those tourists who had come here had to be evacuated. Till October 6, no fresh tourists arrived here as all booking were cancelled. But now a few tourists are coming and no request for cancellation of booking in November have come so far.”
“Our appeal to tourists is that November onwards winter tourism here is safe. Gulmarg and Dal are all safe for winter. They (tourists) can come here and enjoy the beauty of Kashmir. There is no threat in coming here as it is safe,” he added.
He said that the state government has already sent a package for the rehabilitation of those who suffered losses due to floods to GoI for approval. “State government assessed the losses and sent it to the GoI. Now the ball is in the court of GoI when they will approve it. We hope they will approve it soon for the benefit of victims,” Mir told KNS.
The Minister said that guest houses and hotels in Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh areas will remain closed for six months. “We are restricting Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh for some time. The guest houses in these areas suffered damages. For 6-months Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh can’t be restored, but in other areas there is no problem,” he added.