Sheema Zehra: Kashmir has built its name among one of the beautiful tourist destinations in the world and was entitled as the paradise on earth by the great scholar Ameer Khusrow Dehlavi. While numerous places have divergent industries as their economic source, Kashmir owns the tourism industry and is dependent upon it whether it’s business of handicraft, restaurants, hotels or transporters. Also, it is estimated that about five lakh people are involved in the tourism industry directly.
The charm and beauty of Kashmir captivate many people but why tourism is still not taking the height it should have taken?
Safety is the first priority of every person rather than the voyage to the conflicted zone, the consistent turmoil in Kashmir has resulted in bringing down the tourism sector in Kashmir.2014 saw the cut in the tourism sector due to the floods and then in 2016, the fall of the sector was again seen after the widespread protests caused due to the outraged anger of mass. The escalation in the violence results to the de-escalation of the tourism industry and the media has its own tremendous role to play in exaggerating the stories of violence in the state.
Recently after the Pulwama attack, a drastic change in the mindset of the people emerged and they began to get more afraid to visit the place while the tensions uplifted. Even the people of US, UK, etc were warned about the uprisings between India and Pakistan by the government and a travel advisory was issued suggesting people not to travel to Kashmir and places nearby the Indo-Pak border. Most people who visit Kashmir during winters due to the topography of the place changed their destination to places like Shimla with the same topography as Kashmir. The passengers who had booked their flights to Kashmir changed their decisions at the last minute and canceled the bookings to assure their safetyTourism mostly is an important asset for the people involved in the industry and those people are suffering at max. Discounts are being offered by the hotels, many Shikara owners are seen selling vegetables and many travel agents have shut their offices.
The overemphasis of media over the violent situations taking place is immense and the mass without knowing the ground reality starts believing in what media reveals to them. This causes fear between the people who factually shouldn’t be panicked as every tourist in Kashmir is welcomed and is out of harm. While the political games are being performed well by the people around, Kashmir is suffering from a long legacy of conflict and violence. Politics is winning every day and the paradise every day is being pushed to the dark cold corner.