(Mr. Rauf Tramboo, 53, was born and raised in Srinagar. He completed his school education at the Islamia High School located at Rajori Kadal, and his college degrees - B.Com. and LLB (Hons.) - from Islamia College of Science and Commerce located at Hawal. He is an Adventure Travel Consultant and an Adventure Tour Operator. Mr. Tramboo recently was re-elected as the President of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK). He is also the senior Vice President of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK). His personal interests are reading, photography ane environmental advocacy.)
Absence of Infrastructure, Western Tourists Spelling Doom for Adventure Tourism
Srinagar: Bestowed by nature with alpine scenery, high slopes, crystal clear streams and rivers, mountains and abundant snow, the Valley of Kashmir has been the first choice among the adventure sports lovers across the globe.
To give the much needed zing and teeth to the flourishing of adventure sports here, a tourism trade body Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK) emerged on the scene during the late eighties in Kashmir. “Kashmir is always a heaven for adventure tourism, but, the lack of a body which could organize and channelize its full potential was missing from the scene here. It was during the 1987-88 period, that a conglomeration of 12 tourism traders including me decided to form ATOAK,” says senior vice-president, ATOAK, Rouf Tramboo.
But, ATOAK’s task of catering to the adventure tourism in the Valley was cut short before it could tread any distance. The inception of militancy, according to Tramboo left the adventure sports activities half way between and those who had desired to pursue careers in it had to switch to greener pastures both for continuing their first love and earning the means of sustenance.
As the success of adventure tourism survived mainly on the participation of western tourists, Tramboo said that the emergence of militancy related activities on the scene forced the western tourists to pursue adventure sports in other parts of the world.
“The repercussions of militancy cost adventure tourism dearly as we could not host events for the visiting tourists from England, Australia, USA, France, Canada etc. Moreover, the abduction of six foreign trekkers by an armed organization led to the imposition of negative travel advisories by western countries. Strict orders were passed on to their citizens to refrain from visiting the interiors of Kashmir,” recalls Tramboo.
Shifting to other places to carry on with the adventure activities, Rouf informed, “After the insurgency broke out western tourists began to arrive on scant levels forcing me to conduct events in Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim.” But, after the normalcy began to return slowly, Tramboo said that those who had moved to different corners to pursue their jobs in adventure tourism returned home to give the much needed impetus to adventure sports in the Valley.
“Tour operators like Highland journeys, Adventure call, Destination South Asia and others arrived back to cater to the adventure sports here. Besides, other tour operators who joined at the later stage also merged with us,” Tramboo said. “But, in the absence of proper infrastructure and western tourists, adventure tourism is yet to reach zenith here,” added Tramboo.
Commenting on the potential of adventure tourism in Kashmir, Tramboo adds that Kashmir is a heaven for it as with its alpine scenery, high slopes, rivers, mountains, abundant snow, water bodies and beautiful streams for angling. “To cash in on the natural facilities, government should woo foreign tourists besides giving thrust to the infrastructure here. Tourism department needs to do a lot to bring the adventure tourism in Kashmir on par with best of destinations,” demands Tramboo.
Informing that ATOAK is leaving no stone unturned in taping the full potential of adventure tourism in Kashmir, Tramboo said that Department of tourism Kashmir, ATOAK and Adventure Tour Operators Association of India(ATOAI) conducted a successful convention last year at SKICC. “The convention was praised from all quarters. Officials from ATOAI spoke highly about the potential for adventure tourism Kashmir has,” Tramboo informs.
But, Tramboo hastened to add that flourishing of adventure tourism mainly depends on the western tourists. “We are in the process of involving the corporate section of Indian people as they are very fond of adventure sports. But what will give the much needed respite to such activities here is the rush of western tourists. Therefore, government should try its best to woo the western countries.”
Besides, Tramboo says that infrastructure needs a special caring from the state government. “Kashmir can give tough competition to the best of tourist destination provide government delivers on the infrastructure front. “I am not criticizing the tourism department completely as what they have done for the revival of tourism sector here is appreciative. In order to promote adventure tourism, they are offering incentives on adventure sports equipments, but, what we are demanding is government’s complete support in developing the requisite infrastructure and getting as much western tourists back here.