Welcome signs

The sight of tourists, both from mainland as well as from outside the country, thronging the streets of Srinagar, at times in hordes, is a welcome indicator for the socio-economic development of valley in general and particularly for  tourist sector. Once known as a tourist’s paradise, the valley has been a dream holiday destination for people, especially foreigners, who would love to spend some time close to nature. Unfortunately the tourism industry suffered huge loss in the last two decades of armed conflict, with a bright ray of hope for its revival emerging in the last few years.

Tourism industry in valley essentially sustains on the broad natural resource base, besides a few man-made spots, which again achieve their serenity due to the natural ambience. Salubrious climate, freshwater streams and lakes, beautiful meadows and valleys, alpine forests, trekking routes, locations for adventure sports and many other manifestations and revelations of nature set apart the valley as a God-made tourist destination. The nature over here is well corroborated by a rich legacy of cultural resources; the intricate patterns evolved by the Kashmiri craftsmen, an exquisite cuisine, the symbols of spiritual traditions spread across the land and above everything the qualities among the locals of being finest hosts bestows the tourist trade, what can be termed as x-factor.

Given the tremendous potential the industry possesses and with the positive signs of growth, the idea of turning the valley into a world class destination, however, will be a serious challenge for all the stakeholders. Tourism industry is fundamentally a basket of services that necessitates a synergised coordination of a wide spectrum of amenities and supporting facilities. The services commence with welcoming the visitors and culminate with bidding adieu to them, with a keen eye on promoting the brand ‘Kashmir’.

In the first place, the government should prioritize the development of new picnic spots, after proper environmental and economic assessments. Development of new infrastructure and maintenance of already present should be done as per the international standards. The public-private partnership (PPP) mode should be explored fully in this regard. Participation of local players in these endeavours must be made mandatory.

 Development of support services that include better roads and transportation system, hotel facilities all classes to choose from, round the clock power facilities, trained human resource in protocol industry, professionally managed service providers, regulation and monitoring of tourist flow to different destinations, management of these destinations in a professional way are some of the steps that demand an immediate attention.

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