Valley Guides protest after barred from working in Gulmarg
Can’t accommodate excessive tourist guides; agreement was they will work anywhere in valley except Gulmarg and Pahalgam: Official
Post by Noor Mohi-ud-din on Saturday, January 7, 2023
Baramulla, Jan 06: Scores of “registered” Valley Guides in the Tangmarg area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district held a protest demonstration on Friday against the authorities for not allowing them to work at the world-famous ski destination – Gulmarg.
They alleged that the authorities were not allowing them to work in the Tangmarg and Gulmarg areas as tourist guides, which is affecting their livelihood.
Towseef Ahmad Bhat, a tourist guide from Tangmarg, said the tourism department had provided them with a license to work as tourist guides throughout the valley.
“Now the officials are not allowing us to work in Gulmarg which is our hometown. How can we work as tourist guides in Sonamarg or Doodhpathri? How is it justified to charge only 900 rupees from a tourist when you have to travel and stay at that place for such a meager amount," he said.
Towseef said despite having higher qualifications, the members of the Valley Guides are left with no jobs. “This way the youth associated with the profession would slip into depression,” he said.
The protesting tourist guides said while they are thankful to the authorities for providing them with the licenses, disallowing them to work in Gulmarg “serves no purpose”. “There are 918 guides registered in Gulmarg. With a growing population and rising unemployment, the increase in the number of tourist guides is not a new thing. The officials can adjust 50 to 60 more such youths in Gulmarg,” said another tourist guide from Tangmarg.
“It is ironic that on one hand, the government is boasting of having received a record number of tourists in Kashmir this year, while on the other side, it is playing with our livelihood,” he said. “Gulmarg is a small bowl-shaped tourist destination but show me one tourist who doesn't visit here. We appeal to the Lieutenant Governor-led administration to look into the issue and allow us to work in Gulmarg.”
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Tourist Guide Association Gulmarg, Manzoor Ahmad said if the authorities are providing licenses to the youth then they will have to accommodate them. He said only unregistered guides should be stopped.
“With less snow, online ticket system, the registered tourist guides are already facing issues. The administration must look into the matter and resolve it,” he added.
Meanwhile, an official told Rising Kashmir that the Valley Guides were provided a license in order to promote tourism in the remote areas of Jammu & Kashmir.
“We cannot accommodate an excessive number of tourist guides in a single place. These tourist guides have given a written affidavit that they will work anywhere in the valley except Gulmarg and Pahalgam,” the official said.