Srinagar: While condemning the irresponsible and factually incorrect news report carried by a national newspaper, Tourism Minister Tassaduq Hussain Mufti today said tourists in Kashmir are enjoying their holidays across the Valley.
He said that an unprecedented rush at Tulip garden in Srinagar was witnessed and also good number of travellers enjoyed Gondola ride at Gulmarg today.
Taking cognizance of the baseless news report, he urged media houses to report the ground situation responsibly with proper facts and said a small wrong news report has a potential to affect smooth tourists flow to Kashmir and affect the livelihood of lakhs of people associated with sector.
In an interaction with tourism stakeholders convened today here at SKICC, Tourism Minister said government has always made elaborate security arrangements to ensure safety of the tourists.
During the interaction with hoteliers, travel age-nts, tour operators, houseboat owners, ShikaraWallas and other service providers, the minister said no confirmation of such incidents at Boulevard has been reported contrary to the report in the newspaper. The minister said tourists are arriving in Kashmir normally and informed that about 5000 tourists and locals visited Tulip garden in Srinagar, over 2100 visitors enjoyed Gondola ride on Tuesday at Gulmarg and many more visited other destinations.
He said the news stating that ‘bus ferrying Indonesian tourists was attacked’ is fake.
On the occasion, the private stakeholders especially travel agents and hoteliers also informed the minister that their clients have been visiting various tourist destinations and they have not received any complaint from them.
They also informed the minster that no incident of stone pelting was reported at Boulevard and no tourist from Abu Dhabi or Indonesia was hurt.
The tourism Minister condemned the news report terming it as highly-irresponsible.
The Minister while hoping for a good tourism season ahead said after the successful completion of 64th Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) Convention in Srinagar, tourist footfall to the J&K will witness huge fillip.
Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah also condemned the baseless report. He said that no tourist was attacked in Srinagar.
Meanwhile asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is one of the safest tourist destinations in the country, Minister for Public Works Naeem Akhtar urged the visitors to not to pay heed to false reportage and invited them to experience the hospitability and warmth from people of Kashmir.
“Kashmiris hold tourists in high regard and tourists who have visited the Valley have experienced warmth from all quarters, especially locals. We are proud to have been rated as the most sought-after tourist destination in the country as per a recent survey, and Jammu Kashmir was, is and will continue to be a safe place for tourists from all regions, national and international alike,” he said.
He stated that there have been zero crimes reported against tourists in the state so far and the safety of tourists is always a top priority.
The Minister, while making a mention of successful conduct of recently held TAAI convention in Kashmir, asked the other tourist bodies to take a note of this and direct tourist traffic towards Jammu and Kashmir which is blessed with abundant natural scenic splendor and serenity.
Naeem Akhtar also refuted the claims made by a national daily about stone pelting incident on tourists and said that these reports are baseless and no such incident has taken place anywhere in the state.
“It seems that the mischief is deliberate to derail the tourism season in the state which has just started picking up. We strongly deny this and the state government will be taking this up with the appropriate authorities and the Press Council of India”, he said.
Naeem Akhtar urged all prominent people at responsible positions to desist from spreading and propagating fake news which is detrimental to the image and interest of Jammu and Kashmir.
He also appealed to the media fraternity across the world to help Jammu and Kashmir bring back peace into the lives of the people and revive its economy which is majorly dependent on tourism.