One of the major issues the government of Jammu and Kashmir is grappling with, especially after the state witnessed massive flooding last year, is wooing tourists back to the Valley.
Last year, the floods in the Valley left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. This year too a flood alert was sounded, but officials said the water levels have receded.
“We are planning to conduct road shows across the country to break the myths, especially after the 2014 floods, about the state. Kashmir remains an affordable and safe destination,” said Farooq Shah, managing director of the state tourist development corporation.
State education minister Nayeem Akhtar flagged off a double-decker bus service on the banks of the Dal Lake on Thursday, as the water receded from the lake and the Jhelum river, in a bid to reach out to those tourists already in the state.
“Our plans to sightsee weren’t affected too much… For a day, we were quite scared, but the weather improved and we felt better,” said Ravi Banerjee, a tourist from the West Bengal.
The state witnessed a major fall in the tourist sector last year after the floods. It picked up again only to slump when the flood warning was sounded this year. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to reassure prospective tourists: “The worst of the water logging is behind us and the fear of floods has been dispelled by the government. Please come visit Kashmir in the spring.”
The state government had expected the number of tourists in the state to cross the 20 lakh mark, but eventually last year saw only 11 lakh tourists in the Valley.