Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s statement not to link tourist influx in the Kashmir valley with peace and normalcy has drawn sharp criticism from people of Jammu, especially those related to the tourism sector, who termed the remarks as “politically motivated” and “bereft of reality”.

Questioning the “intentions” of the Chief Minister, they took on the ruling dispensation for ignoring Jammu vis-à-vis allocation of funds for carrying out development activities in the tourism sector.

“This is a wrong thinking on the part of the Chief Minister that tourist arrival couldn’t be linked with normalcy. It (peace) has rather a direct impact on the visit of tourists to the state. During militancy, domestic and foreign tourists used to avoid visit to Jammu and Kashmir due to fear psychosis,” said Inderjeet Khajuria, president of the All Jammu Hotels and Lodges Association.

Khajuria said the government must understand that normalcy and peace were prerequisites for tourist and pilgrim arrival in the state.
“Earlier, there was a plan to construct a direct rail-link between Udhampur and Srinagar but they diverted the track towards Katra to take Vaishno Devi pilgrims to Kashmir. It means the situation has shown a significant improvement. Also, the government is least bothered about developing Jammu as an independent tourist destination. The glaring example is the inordinate delay in completion of all major tourist destinations,” he said.

Omar while addressing a seminar “Sustainable Tourism-Environment and Infrastructure” organised by the Kashmir Hoteliers and Restaurant Associations at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre in Srinagar yesterday said “the revival of tourism should not be equated with normalcy as the two possessed different parameters to be judged.”

The Valley has registered a 79 per cent increase in the arrival of tourists so far this year.

Yashpal Gupta, president, Association Chamber of Traders Federation, termed the Chief Minister’s statement as “politically motivated” and “bereft of reality”.

 

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