Kashmir to tap tourists from Bangladesh

Kashmir to tap tourists from BangladeshSRINAGAR: Tourism players in Kashmir are seeking a pie from the rising number of tourists arriving into India from neighboring Bangladesh, which overtook the United States for the highest number of tourist arrivals in the country last year.
Seventeen lakh tourists from Bangladesh visited India last year. It was the highest number of tourists visiting India from any single country, Mehmood Shah, director of the state tourism department, told reporters here.
Out of these, just 1,800-odd Bangladeshi tourists visited Kashmir, which was very low and insignificant, he said. “This number just represents scratching the tip of the iceberg.”

Highlighting the similarities between Bangladesh and Kashmir, Shah said: “We share the passion for cricket, there are religious commonalities- we have a Sufi circuit -other avenues like adventure tourism, besides the natural landscape and beauty.”
There are many Kashmiris who have studied degree courses from Bangladesh, while some are visiting that country for business as well. The interaction over the past couple of years has increased, he said.

A group of travel and tour operators was here on a familiarization tour and visited various tourists’ spots like Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Tulip Garden.
The head of the delegation, Rezaul Ekram, said there was a lot of potential in regional tourism, as has been seen in South-East Asian countries.
“This initiative has been taken by a Kashmiri tour operator and we hope that government will contribute its bit in realizing the potential of regional tourism,” Ekram said.

He invited the state tour operators to visit Bangladesh for the travel fair in October this year.
Faisal Karim, another tour operator from Bangladesh, said while around 5,000 Bangladeshis visit India on a daily basis, they have not been visiting Kashmir in the numbers they should.
“The first question my clients ask: ‘Is Kashmir safe?’ Now, after coming here and visiting the places, I can tell them Kashmir is absolutely safe for tourists. There is no problem for tourists,” Karim said. PTI