SRINAGAR: While tourist arrivals to Kashmir have witnessed sharp decline because of the prevailing situation in the Valley, development infrastructure projects in the tourism sector have also taken a big hit with serious implications for this key sector of the State’s economy.
According to Tourism Department officials several film crews who were scheduled to be in Kashmir for shooting of films during summers also changed their destination in view of the prevailing situation in the Valley.
As per the data provided by the Tourism Department while around 3 lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July 2015 and September 2015, there has been almost trickling tourist footfall in the Valley for the corresponding period of the current year.
The spokesman said the tourism destinations and hotels both in private and government sector have been worst affected and most of the hotels are left with zero occupancy.
“During the period of 1st to 12th August a total of 10,059 tourists visited Kashmir valley against 89,243 tourists during same period last year,” he said.
Managing Director, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC), Dr Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said that most of the Corporation’s properties in Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Yousmarg and other destinations have 2-4 per cent occupancy which ought to have been 90-100 per cent around this time of the year.
Similarly, accommodations of Tourism Department and Tourism Development Authorities have also witnessed a shortfall of 90-95% compared to last year.
Not only the tourist arrivals, most of the major infrastructure projects which were to be taken up in Kashmir under Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP) have also come to a halt.
According to Tourism Department officials, Rs 400 crore were available to the Department under PMDP for infrastructure development at new and existing destinations. Under this programme, the Department had formulated projects for infrastructure development at Daksum, Doodhpathri, Kokernag, Verinag, Pahalgam and Salamabad (Uri). “All these projects are now in limbo because of the prevailing situation,” the official said.
According to preliminary estimates the tourism sector alone has suffered a loss of around Rs 3000 crore due to the unrest and the people associated with tourism trade apprehend that the prevailing situation could adversely affect the tourist arrivals during the next year as well with disastrous implications for the local economy.