Srinagar, Apr 20: Tourists visiting Kashmir are facing difficulties owing to frequent stone-pelting attacks on tourist cabs and buses at certain places and the government which spends crores on publicity to woo them to Valley is seemingly unable to initiate measures for their safety.
En-route to the ski-resort of Gulmarg, tourists facing constant threat of stone-pelting attacks at Narbal area on the outskirts of Srinagar city while same treatment is meted out to them at certain places along the Fore-Shore Road as well, said a group of tourism traders who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons.
They alleged that the authorities despite being aware of the situation have miserably failed to ensure safe passage to tourists visiting Gulmarg at Narbal area.
“Whenever any vehicle carrying tourists passes through Narbal, they are being attacked by youth. Same treatment is meted out to them en-route to Sonmarg at Fore-Shore Road. This is a very unfortunate situation,” they said.
They claimed that various delegations of people associated with industry apprised concerned authorities about the situation, however, no measures were taken so far.
“This is a serious issue which needs to dealt with seriously or else no tourist will visit Kashmir in future,” they added.
“Tourism is the backbone of the state’s economy, either government should ensure safety for tourists or else they should stop wooing tourists to Kashmir and in fact issue an advisory asking them not to visit valley. Why should an innocent visitor suffer?” they said.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar, Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, could not be contacted for comment, however, Director Tourism Mehmood Shah while admitting the that incidence of stone attacks on tourist vehicles said “if these incidents continue to happen, then there is no other option than to take alternate routes.
“I have been personally taking this matter with concerned DCs and SPs, and other higher-ups, but no safety measures were taken in this regard. Ensuring safety for tourists is the obligation of the police department, they should immediately look into the issue,” Director Tourism told ‘Kashmir Images’.
He said he will again call a meeting and take up the issue and in case the matter remains unresolved, then tourists might be asked to avoid these routes.
“Narbal and Fore-Shore Road routes will be avoided and some alternative routes will be taken in case tourists continue to face difficulties,” Shah said.
“Such incidents not only hamper smooth inflow of tourists but also puts out a negative image about Kashmir,” Director Tourism Kashmir added.