Revamping the tourism sector


We have to seriously underline and accord due emphasis to the importance and utility of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir. A vast structure of human resources to look after how this sector would cater to the emerging needs, tastes and requirements of the tourists must think that a conventional and a virtual status quo state of affairs in respect of this sector allowed to remain undisturbed for better results would prove only in the operation of the Law of Diminishing Returns. Today’s challenges and requirements cannot be resolved with yester year’s solutions. Perhaps, that thing in mind must have prompted the former Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Girish Chandra Murmu for deciding to restructuring of Tourism Development Authorities (TDAs). We have to go in for constant changes and innovations to make tourism industry as most viable and a strong pillar of the UT economy which calls for greater competitiveness and in pure marketing parlance, new ”tourism products and services” to be on back to back manner offered to tourists. It also calls for total reforms in the organisational structure. If, therefore, the required restructuring would have by now taken place, not only their smooth functioning but productive functioning too would have been ensured. J&K faces tremendous competition from other destinations falling away from Jammu and Kashmir and new ones like COVID -19 virus around etc call for more hard work to ensure tourism not only did not suffer in anyway but made strides ahead to contribute towards the growth of the economy and providing livelihood to thousands of people associated with it directly and indirectly. A decision taken to this effect in December 2019 for initiating the process of speedy restructuring of the TDAs as there was ”a pressing need” for the same, has not fructified into a cogent and properly devised roadmap to set the process in the motion. Decisions taken under well established procedures and practices even though at the implementation stages, the authority concerned may not be in the same position and place due to various reasons, does not in any way, get impacted as the Governments are an unending process and entity and merely a change of the authority does not necessarily change or rescind the decision taken earlier. However, there are no two opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic and constrains and pressures experienced due to its brunt and bump on satisfactory and timely executions of many vital projects, however, a full year having seen no developments even not any preliminaries towards the desired end is equally not warranted. Nothing very tangible was, however, required to be done as by experience and performance most of these TDAs were found either non- functional, or doing no work or even existing on papers only but drawing monthly salaries without any ado. And all about their establishment was done in a hotchpotch manner, in a haste and sans any proper planning. Moreover,TDAs were established but reasonably adequate manpower was not provided, infrastructure required in respective areas to motivate and attract tourists was not raised. Most of these Authorities were formed as a result of political reasons and considerations hence compromising with professionalism. Due to these and host of other reasons, most of these Authorities do not know as to what specific they were expected to do which resulted in total failure to help and promote tourism in their respective areas. Some authorities have no Chief Executive Officers or Heads of the unit. What is, therefore, required is a professional and a realistic approach to revamp and restructure these TDAs or to wind them up and make the same as part of the UT Tourism Department for a better and productive role to promote tourism.