Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and contributes largely to a nation’s economy. In 2019, 1.6 crore tourists visited Jammu and only 8.3 lakh visited Kashmir. Even when Jammu receives 1 crore and 60 lakh tourists in a year still it does not appear even in the top ten of domestic tourist destinations.
Lack of development of other places prohibits tourists who come to visit Shri Mata Vaishno Devi to see other tourist spots. Many allege that the administration’s focus has only been to increase tourists in Kashmir but not in Jammu.
Areas like Poonch, Udhampur, Rajouri, Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah have beautiful locations, as picturesque as Kashmir, but lack of infrastructure couldn’t attract visitors. ‘Chenab Region’ even though it is the hometown area of ex-CM Ghulam Nabi Azad and at the present constituency of minister in PMO Dr Jatinder Singh, still it was never promoted by the administration just because of mindset of not offending Kashmir.
Even holy town of Katra which attracts almost every tourist coming to J&K has not been spared. Renewal of licenses of existing hotels at Katra has become a battle between the Pollution Control Board and Tourism department.
Both these departments direct hoteliers to get NOC from other departments first before renewal which becomes quite a task for a tourist which otherwise could have been not so. Navratra Festival at Katra is a matter of faith for crores of Hindus of India. But Tourism Department harasses and exploits local artists and event managers as some payments of even 2019 are pending.
Many events are also cancelled including Paddar Cultural Festival, Mela at Jhajjar Kotli and Suchetgarh, Summer Festival of Patnitop, Kailash Yatra from Bhaderwah and Dudu, Mela Patt at Bhaderwah, Trekking from Dudu to Kailash Kund, rallies etc.
Adventure Tourism is another venue which is totally ignored or discouraged in Jammu division. In 2007, experts surveyed the Chenab, which is one of the world’s 10 best rafting stretches. The report found that the 20-km stretch from Gulabgarh to Afwani in District Kishtwar is a very suitable stretch for white-water rafting along the river. The stretch is ideal for rafting from beginners to advanced level rafters. But just because of the administration’s inefficiency, the site never received what it deserved.