Though started two years back, the direct train to Katra is gradually affecting the Jammu tourism, wherein people associated with the sector claim that in the past two years, the Jammu tourism has suffered over 90 percent losses and the hoteliers are the worst victims.
“The move of the government, of starting direct train to Katra, has left people associated with tourism in Jammu in great dismay, as the direct train has made Jammu city insignificant,” said president Hotel and Lodges Association Jammu-Inderjit Singh.
He added that the move has gradually and slowly hollowed the Jammu tourism, with losses of over 90 percent.
“It won’t be wrong to say that at present the Jammu tourism is on ventilator and it needs strong will from the government side to resurrect it,” he said when asked about recent steps taken by the government in developing Jammu tourism.
He added that the hoteliers are the biggest sufferers as they are earning peanuts or nothing due to poor tourist footfall.
“Tourists, especially pilgrims, prefer to move directly at Katra, instead of halting in Jammu, unlike they were doing in the past. This practice has marred the Jammu hoteliers badly,” he said and added whatever big or small Jammu hoteliers earn comes during move of civil secretariat to Winter Capital.
He further said that actually the government has come up with certain schemes to develop Jammu tourism, but a strong will is needed to execute and implement the introduced schemes.
Remembering former chief minister for being serious towards development of Jammu tourism, Inderjit Singh said that late Mufti Mohd Sayeed always favoured the development of Jammu region.
“He always favoured the development of Jammu region as an international destination, especially Patnitop, Bhaderwah, Mantalai and Basohli,” said Inderjit, wishing that present dispensation may also work seriously towards the development of the tourism sector in the region.
Meanwhile, in addition to tourism sector, the direct train to Katra has also affected economy of the Jammu region, as claimed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
“The direct train to Katra has affected the economy of Jammu region badly, especially the transport sector,” said Rakesh Gupta-chairman Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
He said that this was a welcome development, as pilgrims are able to directly reach Katra. However, there is skepticism among traders, who are wary as it has affected the tourism business, especially those in the dry fruits, hotel and transport sector.”
He said, “Jammu, known as the city of temples, thrives essentially on the high pilgrim footfall, as well as the trade of dry fruits such as walnuts, almonds and other food items, including rice, Kashmiri rajma and Kashmiri handicrafts, which generate huge income for the locals.”
Meanwhile, a senior tourism official in Jammu, wishing anonymity said that various schemes are put in place to upgrade Jammu tourism.
He said “Several ambitious plans to develop tourist attractions in Jammu have been taken, especially to develop an artificial lake near the river Tawi Bridge and construct a ropeway between Bahu Fort and the old Jammu Palace.”