NEW DELHI: Kashmiri tour operators say they want more Malaysian tourists after news reports said that the local tourism department may not promote the destination in Malaysia and will instead increase its efforts to woo Gulf Arabs.
The Jammu and Kashmir tourism department plans to hold promotional events in Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand next year but not in Malaysia, the New Indian Express reported.
If Malaysia, Kashmir’s major source of foreign arrivals, is ignored, apparently over its political stance on the Kashmir issue, it would harm the tourism industry badly, travel companies said.
“Malaysians love to visit Kashmir as compared to tourists from the Middle East. Tourism must be kept separate from politics,“ said Irshad Hazari, director of Euphoria Travel Services.
“We have been successful in establishing Kashmir as a popular destination among Malaysian tourists in the last five years. Even during the current crisis, we are receiving Malaysian tourists. If we don’t promote more in Malaysia, our efforts will be wasted,” Irshad said.
If the report about not promoting Kashmir in Malaysia is true, the Travel Agents’ Association of Kashmir (TAAK) will approach the government against making such a move, its president Ashfaq Sidiq Dug said.
“Efforts by TAAK members have resulted in huge traffic from Malaysia. It is our top source of foreign arrivals. Our members are not going to stop promoting Kashmir in Malaysia,“ he told Bernama.
“Linking tourism with politics will have repercussions for the economy. It may affect arrivals from other places also,“ Ashfaq added.
He said Kashmir’s large associations representing segments such as transport, houseboats, hotels and travel agents will discuss the issue with the tourism authorities. — Bernama