Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said ‘as if pre-militancy days’ had returned to Kashmir and cautioned people against linking the tourist footfall with normalcy.

He was addressing a seminar titled ‘Sustainable Tourism-Environment and Infrastructure’ here.

“It seems as if pre-militancy days have resumed this year as we were getting calls for hotel bookings….Even (former CM) Farooq sahib (Abdullah) used to get calls for bookings….but it is wrong to link tourism to normalcy,” said Omar.

The seminar was organised by the Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation and the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association.

“Tourism is not a barometer of normalcy but that of economic activity. Increased tourism does not mean that issues are resolved,” he said.

The Chief Minister said Kashmir needed to be promoted as a safe tourist destination.

Stating that over 13 lakh tourists had visited Kashmir this year, Omar batted for qualitative tourism, saying he was not in favour of setting targets of receiving 25 lakh tourists. He regretted ponywallas attitude, who were habitual of inconveniencing tourists, saying it would send a negative signal.

Urging stakeholders to build tourism infrastructure by constructing hotels, Omar said the government attempts towards running hotels had failed. “Our duty is to maintain peace, given loans and construct roads,” he said.

The Chief Minister urged the stakeholders to endeavour towards roping in conventional and high-end tourists into the state.

Omar underscored the potential of tourism to provide employment and suggested establishment of restaurants and home stay facilities for tourists. He also emphasised on upgrade of transport facility and accommodation for quality tourism.

Omar said he had received complaints from tourists that there were not many eating joints in the Valley.

 

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