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Government moves to reopen J&K for high-end winter tourists

Lull continues: Boatmen waiting for customers on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar on Thursday.

Lull continues: Boatmen waiting for customers on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Advisory on terror alert, issued on August 2, withdrawn.

The Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to withdraw an August 2 advisory, asking tourists to leave the Valley amid information about a possible terror attack, is aimed at “high value” foreign tourists who visit the State during winter to enjoy activities like skiing and adventure sports, a senior government official said.

The official said the usual season for domestic tourists was over, and they were now aiming at a dedicated clientèle who visit the Valley in winters.

No word on Net use

The officials are non-committal on when mobile phone connectivity and the Internet will be restored in the Valley, which has been under severe restrictions since August 5.

“Security restrictions have been removed from almost all parts of J&K and Ladakh. In light of this, the situation was reviewed and it was decided that the August 2 advisory will be withdrawn,” Principal Secretary Planning (J&K) Rohit Kansal told The Hindu.

Another official said the advisory was withdrawn as a “confidence building” measure. “It is a symbolic gesture and it should be understood that this is an acknowledgement that formally there is no restriction on the arrival of tourists in J&K. We are expecting high value tourists in the coming months.”

Kashmir offers the cheapest winter sports facilities compared to western countries, he added.

Principal Secretary (Home Department) Shaleen Kabra, on August 2, directed tourists to curtail their stay in the Valley immediately, “keeping in view the latest intelligence inputs of terror threats with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra”.

 

Three days later, the State was placed under a lockdown when Home Minister Amit Shah moved two Bills in the Rajya Sabha to revoke its special status under Article 370 and bifurcate it into two Union Territories.

“The security advisory requesting tourists visiting J&K to curtail their stay in Kashmir Valley...issued on August 2 is hereby withdrawn. The tourists desirous of undertaking visit to the State shall be provided all necessary assistance and logistical support,” an order issued by Mr. Kabra on Thursday said.

President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Ashiq Ahmed said the government’s decision was too late in the day and was not unlikely to attract many tourists.

 

“There is no communication, the shops and public transport are shut. Why will families want to come to Valley amid uncertainty; they will not even get good service. The tourism sector was the worst hit when the clampdown was imposed….the peak tourist season that starts from May-October is over,” Mr. Ahmed said.

He said all the sectors have faced huge losses and they were still counting the monetary impact it has had in Kashmir, adding that it was not anywhere less than ₹10,000 crore that can never be recovered.

“There is no call by separatists or political parties for a shutdown, yet the shops and business establishments are closed. People say this is a reaction to government’s August 5 decision. The export of handicrafts and carpets has been hit badly as clients cannot place orders in absence of Internet and mobile phone connectivity,” said Mr. Ahmed.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 8:32:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-moves-to-reopen-jk-for-high-end-winter-tourists/article29650218.ece

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