As a tourism company focusing on the Kashmir region, figuring out what to say or not say regarding the protests happening this summer in Kashmir is difficult. Protests in a tourist destination are never good publicity, especially for Kashmir which already struggles with travel warnings from some Western countries.
The current protests that began in June 2010 have greatly affected the whole tourism industry for Kashmir. We have had to make changes to our plans, including revising the Lumen Dei photo workshop/tour that had a portion of its itinerary in Kashmir.
At the present time tourism isn’t impossible for Kashmir, but the situation is far from normal. Certain activities are not advisable, such as touring cultural heritage sites in the old city area of Srinagar (where most of the protests are happening). Others, like visiting the Mughal Gardens or exploring Dal Lake on a shikara boat ride, are possible.
At FT&T India we know Kashmir can be a riskier place for tourists, yet we take the safety of our customers seriously. We don’t rely only upon news reports to evaluate the situation. We spend most of our time in Kashmir, so we know firsthand what’s going on and have built a reliable network of local partners that helps us assess potential risk. While the current situation in Kashmir is far from ideal, we hope for things to improve and remain committed to benefiting Kashmir through responsible tourism.
If you have questions about the latest developments in Kashmir and what’s possible or not for tourism, let us know by email or in the comments below.
Update 3 November 2010: The protests that began this summer in Kashmir are still continuing, however they have lessened in intensity from where things were in August and September. It’s still not “normal”, but tourism is certainly possible provided you stay aware of the situation in case things change. We’ve seen Indian and foreign tourists begin returning to Kashmir in October without any problems. I’m going to close the comments for this post, but please feel free to still email us if you have questions about the situation.