Tourism, the sunrising industry

Tourism, the sunrising industry

Part 2

T ourism industry in the state of j&k generates around ₹8000 crores contributing to nearly 7% of the UT’s GDP. The GDP figure would have been different if the violence had not hit hard the tourism sector. The usual shutdown in valley due to the armed conflict and resurgence that erupted in the valley in early 1990s compelled tourists to switchover to other places, causing the loss of tourist appetite for this particular destination.
In 1987, the last big season before the conflict started, tourism accounted for approximately 10% of state’s income . During the next 23 years of unrest, tourism contributed virtually nothing to state’s economy. As a result of the unfavourable circumstances, the negative travel advisories to visit Kashmir were issued by various foriegncountries . This negative approach adversely affected the tourist revenue generated by foreign visitors . The impact of conflict in the valley that its main city Srinagar was once declared as the most threatened site in India by the World Monument Fund ( WMF) , placing it on the 2008 list of Most Endangered sites (Winter and Punjab, 2010).Now again this tourism industry healing the wounds of unemployed youth who have miseries and nothing else to invest in capital based ventures.
Agrarian sector particularly horticulture and agriculture mostly plays a vital role in shaping J&k’s economy but it is still lacking the marketing concept due to which false representation that the produce is of a particular standard quality, quantity or grade-composition. Our horticulture industry needs professional consultants and only then it would be the real backbone of J& K’s economy.The increased tourist numbers are exposing local industries to the world and creates new business opportunities.

The spritual tourism is another allied source of income over 58 lakh pilgrims visiting the famous Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu region until July. Jammu is famous for its temples, palaces, forts and forests. The Amarnath Yatra has also seen a tremendous response with over 4 lakh pilgrims in the first 32 days of Yatra, both Vaishno Devi shrine and Amarnath Yatra surpassing the pilgrimage percentage from the previous year.
The border tourism has a huge potential to provide diverse opportunities to the youth of J&k . Social media is exploring the tourist visiting sites, like Bangusvalley , Keran , Lolab valley , Machil, Teetwal , Tangdhar , Reshwari, Gurez etc which bear the potential to provide jobs to the unemployed youth of entire North Kashmir . Economic growth has been of late and heavily demands reformation and renovation.The lower middle class and lower class of people are still at the back end. These people have fewer opportunities to get educated, enhance their skills and to stand as entrepreneur. These classes consume higher fraction of their earning than the rich with the result they fail to survive in any business. If more money flows to these segments then the lower middle class and lower classes are key engines of growth but with inequality on rise these engines are stalling. The tourism policy of 2020 should be fully implemented. All it needs are the serious steps to provide the required reformation. Another challenge for Government is that the Tourist land is shrinking and authorities should ensure sustainable utilization of natural resources. The lakes , wetlands , rivers and streams of J&k have become garbage-dumping sites and huge influx of tourists is adding fuel to the fire. The need of the hour is setting up modern sanitary landfill sites.
The key to unlock the potential of this sector is through government support, infrastructure development, skill enhancement ,quality of service, safety, good travel facilities, proper tour guide and hospitality .These services should refrain from any unfare trade practices for purpose of promoting sale and supply and consumption or adopt any unfair or deceptive trade practices. The tourism industry could have been converted into a big income earning industry but it stands neglected despite the provision of funds in 2023-24 AmritkaalBudget . This industry should be developed as per the vision of sustainable development goals and the new preparations should be made to promote eco-friendly tourism so that it will be a new ray of hope for the people of the region.



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