New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir, the ‘paradise on earth’ that is known for its freezing winter temperatures will be showcased to tourists as the “Warmest Place on Earth".
That’s the title of a five-minute video released by the tourism department of the terrorism-hit state to try and convince domestic travellers that Kashmir is safe and its people are warm and hospitable.
According to Jammu and Kashmir Economic Survey reports for 2014 -15 and 2016, tourist arrivals (both domestic and international) has been on a constant decline.
The report highlights that for the year 2012 the tourist arrivals stood at 12.5 million. Tourist inflow stood at 9.2 million in 2015 out of which majority of the tourists (7.77 million) visited Jammu while merely 1.28 million went to Kashmir Valley.
Mahmood Ahmad Shah, director, Tourism Kashmir, claimed that the state has received around 10 million tourist arrivals (both domestic and international) in 2016.
Made by advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) Delhi, the film features a young Indian couple visiting the picturesque Kashmir valley. They take a day-long trip with someone who they think is the cab driver provided by their travel agency—but he eventually turns out to be a common Kashmiri out to run an errand for his wife.
The video beautifully combines the well-known touristy bits, highlighting the valley’s snowy peaks, Khanqah-e-Molla Mosque, Dal Lake and shikara boats through a focus on the interaction between the couple and their guide (Mir saab).
The message is that Kashmiris go out of their way to make sure that a guest in their state feels welcome.
Uploaded on 23 September on social media platform Facebook, the video has gone viral, garnering over 2.9 million views.
It’s been shared by celebrities like Imtiaz Ali and Alia Bhatt who shot their film Highway in Kashmir.
“There’s a considerable amount of negativity associated with the state of Jammu & Kashmir therefore we decided to launch a campaign with a strong and emotional message to dilute it. Our primary target is domestic travellers who wish to visit the state. Apart from that, we are also hoping to attract honeymooning couples," Shah said.
The campaign will be launched on television this week and will run until November.
“The tourist inflow in the state has been lower than previous years. The client brief was simple—to help increase it by addressing any apprehensions that the guests may have," said Senthil Kumar, chief creative officer, JWT India.
“It was for the first time that a tourism film was trying to talk not just about the beauty of the land but about the people," said Amit Sharma, director of the film, Chrome Pictures.
“Every location we went to, the locals personally served kahwa (Kashmiri tea) with something to eat, and we could not say no to them because otherwise they felt as though they had done something wrong. All I have done is tried to capture the true essence of Kashmir," he added.
Anish Behera, head of planning, digital, at advertising agency Cheil India, said the state tourism board should also work with online travel agents like MakeMyTrip and Yatra to incentivize bookings for Kashmir.