‘The State Should Enable Local Investment For Premium Tourists’
President, Jammu Kashmir Hotel And Restaurant Association (JKHARA)
After Covid, local destinations have gained in terms of premium tourists because international travel wasn’t allowed. Kashmir is a major gainer in this segment. For years, we had been telling the government to focus on attracting the premium tourists. Post the pandemic, this sector has also opened for us.
We also need the tourism facilities to support this segment. It is unfortunate that we have only two five-star properties in Srinagar. The premium segment tourists want to go to Gulmarg. Only Khyber matches up to the standards demanded by the premium tourists. We don’t have more properties that may accommodate such big-ticket tourists.
We should have six more Khybers in Gulmarg. We should have more five star properties in Srinagar, in Pahalgam and other destinations.
Provide Land, Support System To Local Players For Investment
I don’t know if the government is waiting for outside players, and how long they want to wait. The local hospitality players want to invest in offering better services available to tourists. The government should enable local investment.
The government says that we will give land to outside players to invest in high-end tourism in Kashmir. The same facilities should be provided to the local players. Locals want to invest in the sector. We can do so if we get the land for the purpose. But the government imposes strict conditions regarding turnover, for the players who want to invest. This makes local participation difficult.
We have been hearing from the Administration for three years that they are getting outsiders for investment in Kashmir. None has actually come yet. They got a few people from Dubai. We had a meeting with them. It didn’t seem that they are really interested in investment here. A local player works out as the best choice. He is personally invested in the region, he shall be here long term.
Need Tourist Taxi Permits To Purchase Luxury Vehicles
We have approached the government many times for tourist taxi permits. But permits have not been given for many years. The premium tourists demand facilities and comforts of all kinds. We require these permits urgently to cater to the premium tourism segment.
Suitable Transport For Premium Tourists, Luxury Buses
We need suitable transport for premium tourists. We need luxury buses for tourists that offer a high degree of comfort. The local hospitality players shall provide for all of this. The government only has to issue the permits for the purpose. With the current upsurge, tourism is again emerging as a huge sector in Kashmir. The government must provide the required supportive system so that more and more tourists come here, and the entire tourism ecosystem can flourish and thrive. It shall benefit all.
Develop Food Streets In Srinagar
If you go to Dubai or any major tourism destination, you can have all kinds of food there. Why not here? The feedback we get from the tourists is that they have few options to eat out, and have to eat within the hotel.
But this isn’t how it should be at the beautiful tourist spots of Kashmir. Within Srinagar, we should have at least three food streets. One can be at Zabarwan. Another at Shalimar. The third at Nigeen Club. A food street at Nigeen Club will greatly enhance its charm for the tourists.
Currently, the tourism potential of Kashmir has not been realized the way it should be. With the right vision and support, we can develop Kashmir as the most coveted tourism destination. This shall have immense gains for the economy. This shall bring about the most wonderful and desired changes in Kashmir.
Provide Premium, Mid-Budget and Low-Budget Tent Accommodation At Virgin Tourist Spots
Hotels will not be constructed overnight. But till then, the development of virgin tourist spots cannot be put off. The government must identify locations for tents. These will not take too long to come up. Plus they will also answer the need for suitable accommodation at tourist spots.
Tents have their unique flavour in terms of accommodation for tourists. The state may put up these tents and give them on lease. The state may give permits for putting up the tents. The state may impose conditions that must be complied with for the operation of the tents.
There are diverse options that can be considered. The important thing is that accommodation and other facilities should be provided at virgin tourist spots in order to develop them. We have taken this up with the Administration many times, reminded them repeatedly.
These tents may meet all the criteria of a hotel of that classification. One finds such tents at many popular tourist spots globally. In any new destination, hotel spaces will take at least five to six months to develop. Tourism development cannot and should not wait that long.