Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where Materialism Trumps New World Curiosity

Citizens of the state with the highest VAT would rather buy a TV then go on a vacation!

Kashmir outbound tourism also catches the stagnation bug

Srinagar: With inbound tourist flow to Valley almost stagnant, the outbound tourism is also facing the same fate as Kashmiri’s who usually travel for religious purposes has touched its low ebb during the current month.

The Travel Agents Society of Kashmir disclosed that the number of outbound tourists from Kashmir visiting rest of the world is zero.

“Kashmiris travel abroad for Umrah or Hajj and a minuscule number travel to visit Ajmer in groups during winters but outbound tourists during this month has fallen to zero,” said Abdul Khaliq Wangnoo, president of the Travel Agents Society of Kashmir.

Wangnoo said that Kashmiris are very poor when it comes to spending on travel contrary to rest of the world where people spend good part of their income on travel and leisure.

Here, people are more concerned about spending their wealth on building houses and marriages, he adds.

He said that the main aim of traveling or visiting a place for pleasure is ensuing relaxation and creating a healthy mind and body. However this is not offered in religious tourism people usually opt for in Kashmir.

“Today active tourism combines several different aspects including adventure, eco-tourism and other cultural aspects,” said Wangnoo adding that we are not exposed to this kind of tourism.

According to Wangnoo in 1988-89 the then Managing Director of the JKTDC, Mohammad Yousuf Khan, backed by some travel agents wrapped up plans for outbound tourists to South Asian Countries and Europe but his efforts failed.

He said that people in developed world prepare their budgets and select destination ahead of time. “They know the real meaning of travel and we should also lean from them,”said Wangnoo adding that we cannot explore different destinations even though there are some which can fit people’s budget.

The tour operators say that tourism industry is fragile and nay sort of bad news immediately affects the whole industry.

About the present scenario the tour operators say that it is still dismal, however they are trying their best to woo tourists to visit the Valley.

Even though information about hotel, houseboat availability and rates is easily available over internet, still the response is low said a travel agent, Jiya Baba.

The threat of Swine flu and air fare hike is also telling on the flow of tourists, he adds.

Contrary to Valley tourism, the Indian tourism industry seems to be on recovery path. According to government data the sector saw a 7.6 percent positive growth in April this year compared to the same period previous year. The growth has been positive after three consecutive months of negative growth, the data reveals.

This month saw a significant improvement in foreign tourist coming to India, though it registered a negative growth in foreign tourist arrivals during May 2008. India registered only 3 percent decline in foreign visitors in April 2009 compared to a sharp decline of 18 percent in January 2009.

(Rising Kashmir)

No comments: