Babus spend crores on foreign trips, outcome terrible

Pardeep Singh Bali

Government on Tuesday informed the house that in the last one year it has spent an amount of more than Rs. 1.4750cr.on the tourism promotional tours of its officials.
However, despite spending huge amount, the state witnessed a steep fall in the tourist footfall in 2015 as compared to preceding year. In a written reply to a question by MLA Pahalgam Altaf Kaloo , minister of state for tourism-Priya Sethi said that an expenditure of Rs 1.4750 cr was incurred on account of air tickets for participation in National and international travel events.
Giving details, she said in 2014, secretary and director tourism visited Dubai Travel Meet, which incurred Rs. 929708 lacs, following visits by former tourism minister, directors and tourism officers which cost Rs. 3273741 lacs. The Minister informed that these foreign and national tours were aimed at attracting national and international tourists, but due to flood and intermittent rains in the month of April and May the tourist influx was on decline. She said despite aftermath of floods and intermittent rains, the state witnessed 927815 tourists in 2015 as compared to 1167618 tourists during 2014.
“However, a total number of 28954 lakh, the flow of foreign tourists during 2015 was more as compared to the preceding year,”Priya said “We have official records that the tourists arrival to Kashmir in 2015 was 927815 lakh while in 2014, it was around 1167618 lakh. The foreign arrival during the year 2014 was recorded as 27172 and in 2015 it was 28954 lakh,” she added.
In supplementary question MLA- Pahalagam sought reasons behind the fall in the number of tourists’ arrival to valley despite expending huge amount of state money on tourism promotional activities. “Why the tourism flow has not improved despite department spending huge amount on the foreign tours of its officials,” asked legislator. The Minister of State for tourism responded and said that the floods in 2014 had affected the flow of tourist influx to valley to a large extent.
The Government’s spokesperson Naeem Akhter interrupted by saying that the repeated flood warning during 2015 has led to the less footfall of tourists compared to the 2014. “It is true that 2015 has witnessed less flow of tourists and the reason was that in the months of April and May, bookings suffered as the level in Jhelum River raised which sent a negative signal outside,” he said.
Meanwhile, Priya Sethi also informed the House that the government has spent an amount of Rs.312.98 lakh for advertisements in Print and electronic media for promotion of tourism during 2015. “These advertisements have been made in Local/National/ International magazines. Television commercials in local and national TV channels, radio spots etc for wide publicity of tourism in the state,” she said.
Regarding outcome from these media publicity activities, Priya Sethi said that an amount of Rs.312 lakh was meager for the promotion of state’s tourism in media. “Rs. 312 lakh is meager and we have to spend even more amount to ensure more promotion on the line of other tourist states, which often spend Rs 30-50 crore on tourism. We have to tell people throughout the world that they are safe here,” she said.
However, targeting media for its alleged biased approach in covering Kashmir, Priya Sethi said that section of local and national media working in the state is biased in its approach in covering Kashmir.
“The media here send wrong message to the people outside state and country. They have been indulged in exaggerating the facts, which create fear among the tourists and this reason remain major hurdle in tourist inflow,” she said.

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