“Our state despite all its physical beauty is not the top tourism destination across India and the reason is that we are lagging behind in certain areas such as infrastructure and lack of professional
Starting from a small time travel agent to a national tourism award winner, Managing Director, Centre Tour and Travels Bashir Ahmad Karnai states travel advisories to Kashmir by some foreign countries are hindering growth of tourism in the Valley.
Karnai who was recently awarded national tourism award for being among leading travel agents of India who bought highest number of foreign tourists to the country, believes that Kashmir’s beautiful locales and geography is “unique and unparallel”.
After winning the national tourism award, he says his goal is to now see Kashmir as the top tourism destination of India, but adds that travel advisories are hampering the growth of tourism sector in Kashmir despite the situation in the state improving drastically.
“Our company organizes road shows across globe but the major hindrance that we face to convince the tourists to visit Kashmir is adverse travel advisories by foreign countries to their citizens on visit to Kashmir which has dented our tourism sector,” he said in an exclusive chat with us, adding that “I fail to understand that why our state government despite all pomp and show is not making efforts to get the travel advisories lifted, while there are no advisories for Leh which is a part of Jammu and Kashmir.”
“I won the national award for bringing highest number of tourists in foreign category to India, but I must admit that out of the total number of tourists who visited India through my company, I could not convenience even 10 percent of them to visit Kashmir and the biggest reason is the travel advisories.”
He said that with travel advisories in place, foreign tourists are not under insurance cover during their visit to Kashmir but when they are in Leh there is no travel advisory therefore they are insured there.
Karnai who is the managing director of centre tour and travels along with his other four brothers believes that Kashmir is all round tourism destination which needs promotion and corrective measures to bring it to the top of the ladder.
“When we talk of tourism Kashmir is the best destination not only in India but in Asia,” he said.
“But we lag behind in professionalism. When we talk of tourist guides, I can talk with authority that in Kashmir there are hardly few trained guides,” he said adding that government should come forward and give people skilled training in order to serve tourists better.
“Our state despite all its physical beauty is not the top tourism destination across India and the reason is that we are lagging behind in certain areas such as infrastructure and lack of professional people in the field,” he added.
He said there are little facilities available for high-end tourists. “In order to bridge the gap our company is coming up with a state-of-art hotel Grand Centre point which will be among the top notch hotels of Kashmir and it would be operational by the middle of the next year.”
Karnai believes that negative reportage had a bad impact on tourism influx this year.
He states that government in order to remove the negative perceptions among the prospective tourists should organize FAM trips of media persons, TV teams, filmmakers to Kashmir and encourage them to promote Kashmir.
Karnai believes that lack of facilities at Srinagar International Airport gives bad impression to visiting tourists.
“First impression is the last impression. When tourists visit Srinagar Airport, they face lot of embarrassment due to hectic security checks,” he said, adding that there should be a vehicle check point where they are checked by biometric cameras.
“Also government should construct some wash room facilities on all the tourist routes on way to Gulmarg , Pahalgam , Sonamarg, etc,” he said adding that sound and light show at Shalimar garden should be started soon on war footing.
Karnai suggested that youngsters and educated people should venture into tourism sector and help Kashmir become top tourism destination as it can really help the state economically and get the people out of financial miseries.
To mention, Karnai brothers besides owning a Travel Company, have a hotel in the name of Hotel Centre point.