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Kashmir has been compared with heaven on earth. It is most attractive destination for tourists not only in India but all over the world because of lush green valley, pleasant climate, snow-capped mountains and green meadows. Tourism can be the right engine for its growth and development. The development of tourism industry can have a significant impact on the overall growth of the state, because of its ability to create direct and indirect employment, as well as growth in allied industries.
Tourism will likely contribute to the growth of secondary sector such as handicrafts, which have historically benefited from visitors to the state. Also in order to fight the negative prone image of Kashmir valley one has to study first the impacts of conflicts on the tourism and to find out the ways in which tourism can help in order to curb the political instability and to bridge the gap between Kashmir and the outer world.
The violent situations of the state since 1989 have threatened the sustainability of tourism industry. Political instability on a major level of the state has been a major limitation to its development and its progress levels.
Kashmir is stunning and captivating land that abounds with natural beauty. Covered by snowcapped mountains, wild flowers, meadows, immense glaciers and sparking lakes, since ancient times, Jammu and Kashmir was among the most popular travel destinations of India due to its natural beauty. The state with its varied and diversified geographic, agro-climate and topographic features poses peculiar and unique problems of development.
The tourism tag has always placed the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the limelight at the national as well as international levels however, efforts are being made to increase the tourist inflow in the state as with more the arrival of tourists, more economic activity gets generated which has multiplier effect on the income levels of the large percentage of population dependent on this sector.
Violence as well as peace directly affects tourism industry of Jammu and Kashmir. With the increase in the violence the number of tourists dramatically decreased which caused serious problems for the locals who heavily dependent on the revenues of tourism.
Tourism is one of the most sensitive industries, vulnerable to perceived political instability, lack of safety and other uncertainties. Tourism is highly susceptible to external shocks such as natural disasters, political instability and terrorism; destinations are less appealing to tourists if they are insecure or likely to experience serious conflict, war, political unrest, terrorism, violations of human rights, or heavy crime – regardless of the abundance of scenic or cultural attractions.
When we look from the psychological point of view of the decision making process of travelers, the decline of tourist arrivals is a logical consequence of rising terrorist activities since people choose their holiday destinations according to most benefits and least costs, i.e. risks, so taking the context further the impact of the conflict has not only taken the thousand and lakhs of lives it has also frozen the economic development of the state. The state which is rich in all the natural resources and other things is lagging very much on their economic front.
Tourism is not only the growth engine but also an export growth engine and employment generator. The sector has a capacity to create large scale employment both direct and indirect, for diverse sections of society from the most specialized to unspecialized work force; Jammu and Kashmir has a great promise for development of tourism in view of its inherent potential.
Map of Jammu and Kashmir
The valley of Kashmir occupies the top most position in the map of India. Kashmir, along with the region of Jammu, Ladakh and Gilgit forms the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located approximately 1730 m above the sea level; it has Tibet and China in its east and Pakistan in its west. The south of Kashmir is bordered by Punjab, while on the southwest is Himachal Pradesh.
Jammu and Kashmir location is between 32.17′ and 36.58′ north altitude and east to west, the state lies between 73.26′ and 80.30′ longitude. In case of latitude, Jammu and Kashmir matches up with South Carolina (North America), fez (Morocco), Damascus, Baghdad and Peshawar (Pakistan). The standard time in Kashmir is 5.30 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and has a difference of half an hour with the local time.
The geographical location of Kashmir is such that it is surrounded by a number of foreign countries. This makes the Kashmir valley very important from strategic angle. As far as the geography of Kashmir is concerned, the valley has river Jhelum flowing through it, along with its tributaries.
Review of Literature
Since ancient times, Jammu and Kashmir was among the most popular travel destinations of India. However, increase of violence the number of tourist dramatically decreased which causes serious problems on locals who heavily dependent on the tourism.
In the past decade there has been increased amount of research on the phenomena of political upheaval as it pertains to society. Despite the increase in research, limited research has been done on the impact of political up heal and its impact on tourism industry of Kashmir valley.
The literature review will define political instability, its sub-branches like terrorism, link its effect on tourism and describe political and government reaction to the instability it is estimated that almost 50-60% of total population of Jammu and Kashmir is directly or indirectly engaged in tourism related activities. Tourism contributes about 15% states gross domestic product.
Tourism which was thought to be backbone of Jammu and Kashmir has been drastically affected by the evolution of the armed conflict. The state which was the favored situation of the tourists till 90’s has been deserted of the tourists for a very long time.
Terrorism often causes cancellation and withdrawal of travel plans to certain destinations; though indicate the tourism industry as extremely indestructible (Chauhan and Khanna, 2009). The negative news by most of the national and international news channels makes it unthinkable to the people of the world to visit Jammu and Kashmir, because the way they present the news makes Jammu and Kashmir the terrorist paradise (Buckley and Klemn, 1993).
Further it is suggested that locals and foreigners are equally like to be involved in a crime scenario which causes the crucial variable “fear of the unknown and the risk” (Chauhan and Khanna, 2009). The news channels and reporters plays an important role , the way they make situation worse in Jammu and Kashmir no one else has contributed to that.
Despite being a leading industry of Jammu and Kashmir, concrete steps of its economic impact are still lacking (mir,2014), tourists are attracted to the destinations because of the return they get on the expenditure they do in the tourist place, these could be satisfaction of psychological needs like appropriate, safe environment, affordable accommodation etc.
So apart from developing physical tourism infrastructure, political instability must be cultivated as an important factor in influencing tourism. Secondly infrastructural growth is necessary for renewal of state tourism (lone, rather and Jain, 2013), external factors related to terrorism such as media reports about the incidents, tourism authorized advisors, the recovery campaign and so on have influence on tourists perception of the affected destinations.
The relation between tourism and terrorism is undeniable in the modern era due to the strength of the industry and the fact that tourist sites are the ideal target place for the terrorist attacks in order to cause large amounts of economic and social disruption. During the time of turmoil all the tourist resorts were in a worst condition also the principle concern with the govt. was the maintenance of law and order rather than taking care of resorts. He found that the state has been lagging the most of the states of the union of India in regards to the growth of NSDP at current prices (Ranga and Pradhan, 2015).
The turmoil has put a negative sign on state, as high risk is involved in visiting, no tourist was ready to visit the state, as high risk is involved in visiting, and no tourist was ready to visit the state. The youth was frustrated due to unemployment, income earning hand were putting guns for Azadi and nowhere, there was a bit for prosperity (Husain and Bhatt, 2012). In this study we have tried to identify the impact of the turmoil on the tourism sector and overall economy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- To study the total tourist flow since the beginning of political instability in the Kashmir and Ladakh region.
- To examine the impact of political instability on the tourism industry of Jammu and Kashmir state and hence on economy.
- To study the pattern of foreign exchange earnings during the period of period of instability.
- To provide suggestions for full exploitation and development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
- To analyze and investigate that turmoil has hindered the economic development of the state by way of creating huge unemployment.
- To analyze that it has increased the poverty and has made state backward.
- To find the major problems in the development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The purpose of the study is to examine the impact of turmoil on tourism and tourist industry in Jammu and Kashmir. For this purpose the data and information has been collected from both local and foreign tourists visiting Kashmir. The information has been collected by giving equal representation to both local and foreign visitors visiting to all the famous tourist resorts of Kashmir. The information has been collected by means of a questionnaire served to visitors in famous tourist destinations. Therefore, a total number of 100 respondents were interviewed at different tourist destinations. The data collected through the questionnaire was analyzed and interpreted with the help of statistical tabulation methods using averages and percentages approach wherever needed.
In this present study mostly secondary data have been used. Secondary data have been collected from various interim and annual reports presented to the ministry of tourism, govt. of India. In addition to this, data have also been collected from various journals, articles and newspaper archives. The research is also based on the referred sources published, unpublished and electronic.
Discussion and Findings
The present study is an evaluation of turmoil on the so called backbone of the Kashmir’s economy followed by agriculture, its effects on the income, employment and development of the state in general and Kashmir in particular. The usual refrain of politicians has been that tourism is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy.
This is not factually incorrect, but also completely misleading. This is falsehood sold to everyone by a powerful lobby within the state with strong political connections. At, present, Kashmir has a predominantly agriculture based economy. Agriculture, horticulture and handicrafts constitute its mainstay. The bulk of handicrafts are exported and the retail sale is a small portion of the total production.
Impact on Income Generation
During the turmoil period the people has suffered a lot in terms of poverty, people associated with tourist industry has to live a miserable life. The people like houseboat owners, pony owners, the local vendors has to live in poor and harsh condition, as there was no one who visits Kashmir.
The turmoil has put a negative sign on the state, no tourist whether local (national), international was not ready to visit the state as they think that there is a high risk involved in visiting it. Every day, every minute there were grenades, fires, bloodshed which has deteriorated the tourism potential of the state.
The turmoil of 1989 has, directly led to increase unemployment, because tourism is the only industry which can generate employment either directly or indirectly to both educated and illiterate persons in the state.The below data provides a holistic view of political instability that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is suffering from, the state start losing its peace to the instability and conflict in 1989 and in 1990 the situation of the state became grimmer.
In 1990 there were around 3905 military incidents in which 862 civilians, 123 security forces and 183 militants were killed. In 1992 the state witnessed 4971 such incidents leaving around 1909 causalities and a huge loss to the property and economy of the state was paralyzed.
Similarly the graph of human casualties including civilians, security forces as well as militant kept on growing upwards but with a truce line formed by then prime minister of India Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan’s Nawaz Shareef the situation started to stabilize until 2002 when both India and Pakistan were involved in battle of Kargil. Since the war of Kargil the situations of turmoil in Kashmir region got better with time and nowadays again the tourists are flocking towards the valley in large numbers.
The above mentioned graph clearly shows that there is a negative relationship between the two variables armed conflict is the cause for decreasing numbers of tourists in Jammu and Kashmir peace is the positive cause for increasing tourist arrival in Jammu and Kashmir. In year 1988 number of tourists visited in the state was 2200. Whereas, in 2002 only 100 tourists visited in the state this clearly shows figure differences & that how turmoil and peace directly effects arrival of tourists.
It becomes quite evident from the cited graph that the arrival of tourists in Jammu and Kashmir during pre-armed struggle period was frequently high than the year 1988 in which tourist arrival started decline at alarming rate because of political chaos in the state. However, after year 2007 peace process started in Jammu and Kashmir that enhanced the tourist arrival in subsequent years.
Tourism as one of the main industries in the Kashmir valley has suffered tremendously due to violent activities. It has declined substantially since late 1980’s when military gained momentum. It is estimated that state lost 29 million tourists from 1989-2002 leading to tourism revenue loss about $3.6 billion. There were 4477 military incidents in 1995 which declined to 312 in 2012, although the number has decreased during the end of the first decade of twenty first century but the nature of instability shifted from militant incident to civil unrest therefore many civilians lost their lives.
Before 1990’s tourism was the second main driving engine of the economy of Kashmir. The tourist flow in the year 1989 was 557977 but during 1990-1995 when the instability was on its peak it dropped to 8520. The major set-back to the tourist flow has affected the economic stability of the state in general and pressed the employment opportunities.
Suddenly the tourist flow reached to 109883 in 1998 as compared to 8520 in1995 and the number went up to 217292 in the next year. The reason for the increase in the number of tourists after 1998 was that the socio-political conditions were better now as compared to the past years.
It was during the period that in the year (1996-1997) elected government was established in the state after a gap of six years. And it is after the formation of a popular government that the situation began to pick-up speed again. The new government started the process of reconstruction and refurbishing infrastructure systems, on a huge scale, that had been severely damaged during the years (1989-97), because of armed struggle
Tourism industry in Kashmir is facing other more problems like inadequate capacity, road connectivity between Srinagar and Jammu, costly travel, poor organization i.e. fragmented market, lack of supportive infrastructure, rough terrain has been an endless hurdle, destruction to the physical infrastructure due to militancy and the instabilities have also eroded the intellectual capital, intervals in security and safety, irregular development and political instability.
Political instability set back to investment both national and foreign investments which intern lead to exploitation of huge natural resources for which the state of Jammu and Kashmir is known for. Political instability also channeled the local investment into non development expenditure rather than into productive sectors. Unfortunately there is insufficient attention paid by the state government to tourism sector of the state.
Identifying new tourist spots will go a long way in enhancing tourism potential in Jammu & Kashmir. Different types of cultural programs and events should be organized at different parts of the state this would further boost up tourism sector of the state.
Proper tourism marketing should be done so that tourism in Jammu and Kashmir shifted from uni-seasonal to multi-seasonal. Demand made on human recourses, including knowledge, skills aptitudes & numbers.
Turmoil or peace anywhere in the world directly hits almost every sector of the growth & Kashmir is not special case. The above study reveals that the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir suffered a sudden downfall due to massive political disturbance after the late 1980s.The armed struggle has not only taken the precious lives but public buildings, bridges, hospitals, private institutions and shops have been gutted. Atmosphere of fear and disturbance everywhere in the state resulted into decline of tourist’s arrival in the state.
However after the year 2007 tourists’ arrival have started increasing due to establishment of peace process but still long way to go to make state a safer tourist’s destination not only in India but also in the world. Need of the hour is to work towards sustainable tourism which will be the first step towards improving the politically disturbed scenario. Tourism of Jammu and Kashmir is very rich and in this sector there are abundant opportunities for
Serenity in the destination area determines the tourist flow; people usually avoid the areas which have negative image as far as political conditions are concerned. So political stability is must for promoting tourism. Tourism cannot flourish in warfare and conflict, with the result new areas within the state like Ladakh with peaceful environment attracted tourists. The existence of incidents like instability and insurgency in destinations like Kashmir valley, have direct bearing with tourist arrivals.
The economy of the state has been badly affected with militancy because no foreign and private investment has taken place over the years (Shah & Wani, 2014). Tourism must be used as a bridge to create links between Kashmiris and rest of India. The state and its people could be helped at this stage by encouraging visitors to go to Kashmir (Nehru, 1989). It will help to remove alienation of Kashmiris.
Visitors can better understand much about the host problem and the host will realize the importance of maintaining peace and security. The importance of tourism, as an instrument of economic development and employment generation, particularly in the remote and backward areas, has been recognized the world over, (Ministry of Tourism, Annual Report 2009-10). This option needs to be understood and adopted especially in Kashmir valley due to its location and potential for tourism.
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