The scenic Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is fighting negative stereotypes to attract visitors.
Travel businesses in scenic Jammu and Kashmir are keen to reverse the sagging tourism fortunes of the state in India, which has been hit by occasional incidents of insurgency in the last three years.
As part of its efforts to spread the message that the valley remains safe for tourism, the state tourism department recently hosted the 64th annual convention of Travel Agents Association of India, the first time this major trade event has been held in the state for more than 30 years, TTG Asia reports.
“We expect that after hosting this convention, which has witnessed participation from agents [across] India, tourist arrivals will increase in the state multifold and dispel the myth that the destination is unsafe for tourists,” said Sunil Kumar, the association’s president.
Some 7.3 million tourists visited Jammu and Kashmir in 2017, down from 8.4 million in 2016 and 9.2 million in 2015.
“The international tourist arrivals in Kashmir at present are minimal, though there is an increase in demand from markets like the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Bangladesh,” said Zahoor Qari, chairman of the association’s Jammu & Kashmir chapter.
“However, the travel advisories issued by the US and Europe are the main challenge to attract tourist arrivals from these key-source inbound markets.”
Film and golf
Film tourism has been identified as a key area that could bolster the travel sector in the Kashmir Valley, with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti visiting several Indian states last year with industry representatives, holding meetings with tour operators, agents and movie stars.
Golf is another promising area, with Rajan Sehgal, president of the India Golf Tourism Association saying, “Kashmir boasts world-class golf courses. If international golfing events are organised in the state, it will result in attracting many international golfers.”