Invest in peace
With the Tourism department along with some private tourism players having embarked on holding roadshows and other promotional measures to attract more and more visitors to Kashmir, the tourism traders here are hopeful that such things will put economic activities in the Valley back on rails. However, tourism, it goes without saying is a peace-time activity. So unless and until there is peace in Kashmir, tourism or for that matter any other economic activity will remain susceptible to disruptions. So the obvious logical step for the government will be to try and invest in peace – tourism or for that matter any other economic activity will follow on its own.
It is anybody’s guess that given the protracted nature of troubles in Kashmir, return of peace and calm to the Valley itself is a huge challenge. But it is also true that if there is political will, and sincerity of purpose, government could initiate measures as would steadily push this place towards peace. It will have to make a beginning somewhere by indicating that its messages besides their loud political content have some human angle as well, which has the physical and economic well-being of the Kashmiri people at its core.
Let’s look at the tourism sector. Expecting that doing away with the adverse travel advisory alone would do the trick is asking for too much. This initiative will have to be followed up with putting in place other facilities as would encourage the tourists to come and visit Kashmir. For this besides the telecommunications including the Internet connectivity is a must. But thus far mobile telephony as well as the Internet services have been restored only partially. Given that Kashmir has only 2G Internet connectivity as of now, which again remains susceptible to disruptions even on slightest of pretexts every now and then, is certainly a grey area which needs to be looked into. People in general and particularly the ones who have the ability to spend on travel and tourism are very unlikely to travel to a place which is not part of the information super-highway. It goes without saying that no visitor would want to come here to see Kashmir’s hill and dale only if it not well connected with the worldwide web like other places.
The government will have to try and restore normal human activities here as quickly as possible. This will lend some meaning to the official claims of calm and normality having returned to Kashmir. And then only one can expect the visiting tourists too getting their money’s worth here.