The Telegraph uses old data for misleading narrative on tourism in J&K
Wrong and incomplete information has been used in an attempt to distort the reality in Jammu and Kashmir
‘We are near to economic collapse’: Kashmir’s tourism industry decimated by India’s internet blackout
The headline of this article in The Telegraph, UK, published on February 6, 2020, paints a distorted picture of the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
We found false, misleading, and incomplete information in the narrative that the article tried to build.
For centuries the (Dal) lake has been a major attraction for both domestic and foreign tourists, but today not a single visitor is enjoying this area of breathtaking beauty.
It is difficult to understand the basis on which such a sweeping statement became part of the article being discussed here. The “...but today not a single visitor...” assertion is not backed by any data, official or otherwise. The Dal Lake, one of the most popular tourism destinations in India, is in the process of getting a makeover to make it even more attractive for visitors.
Internet access has still not been restored in Kashmir.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the six months since Article 370, which provided a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was abrogated and it became a Union Territory, internet services have been restored all over.
Hundreds of internet kiosks were set up across Jammu and Kashmir to help the people, particularly students.
Broadband internet services were restored in government-run hospitals on December 31, 2019
Internet connectivity to companies in the Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) sectors was restored on January 18, 2020 .
Mobile data services and internet access through fixed line allowed was restored all over Jammu and Kashmir on January 24, 2020.
Senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir administration have briefed the media on all of these. Orders issued by the Union Territory’s Home Department are in the public domain.
It’s surprising that the author has missed these developments.
Kashmiris have been unable to advertise their tourism business, communicate over email with tourists or travel agents, accept bookings online or transfer money.
There is complete internet access to travel portals like GoIbibo, Trivago., Oyorooms, Cleartrip, Easemytrip, and Yatra . There is no restriction on email services including Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and Rediff.
On January 14, 2020, the Union Territory administration directed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ensure that hotels, tour operators, and organisations in the travel sector were provided broadband internet access through fixed lines.
The Jammu and Kashmir Department of Tourism has recently launched a massive campaign to attract tourists to the Union Territory.
The lack of internet has also made tourists fearful of becoming isolated from the outside world especially when their own safety might be at risk.
This point borders on fear-mongering. The government issued a security advisory asking tourists to curtail their stay in Jammu and Kashmir when Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019. The advisory was withdrawn on October 9, 2019.
“The tourists desirous of undertaking (a) visit to the state shall be provided all necessary assistance and logistical support,” the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department’s order on October 9, 2019, said.
There have been no major incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir in recent months, so talking about a safety risk for tourists visiting the Union Territory is difficult to understand.
This part of the article also repeats the incorrect assertion about the lack of internet in Kashmir. As explained earlier, internet through mobile phones and fixed line broadband connections is available all over Jammu and Kashmir.
“...the uncertain political situation…” .
Why is an article on tourism in Jammu and Kashmir suddenly shifting gears and talking about the political situation? Is it because some of the other assertions are not based on real information... or incomplete information?
There is no confusion about the political situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It became a Union Territory on October 31, 2019. Like other Union Territories in India, it now has a Lieutenant Governor as the head of its government.