By Nazima Sidiq
Srinagar: After witnessing successive summer and autumn tourism season failures, the tourism players and department are eyeing on the winter season to review valleys crumbling tourism industry. But the hiked airfares, closed highway due to heavy snowfall maintained thin flow of tourists in Kashmir.
Rauf Tramboo, president of adventure tour operators association of Kashmir while talking to the Kashmir Reader said, we are expecting around sixty to seventy thousand tourist arrival in Kashmir for our winter season which starts from December to march. But at this time because of high in airfares we are receiving calls for cancellation on an average per day 100 to 150 booking cancelled.
“A Srinagar Delhi ticket which was priced at Rs 4000-5000 before snow has now gone up 12000-19000 per head any instead tourist who want to enjoy snow with his family in Kashmir cannot bear the amount and Then he goes in other place like Shimla or Manila this is an unethical practicing of these airlines because of this way we are losing a sub essential amount of tourist and this has become a chronicle problem to our tourism sector. At this time we are receiving on an average 400 to 500 tourist,” he further added.
Those associated with tourist say that first unrest and now less arrival has hit their businesses.
“Tourist would shop for warm clothes but there sale is less in this time, we are hoping snowfall pushes sale of these item but because of less arrival of tourist nothing happen said,” A Handicraft shopkeeper owner Irfan Ahmad Dar.
Manzoor Sidiq, president of Travel Agents Association of Kashmir while talking to the Kashmir Reader said, “High in airfares and connective blocked naturally affected tourism as we know snowfall is one of the natural attractions for the tourist. High ended tourist or weekend tourist. Who wants to come Kashmir to enjoy holidays why would they pay such a huge amount on tickets, why he visited Kashmir and now they are like to go for other states to enjoy winter holidays as himaliya has received good amount of snowfall,”
“Whenever we have a peak seasons naturally these air ways goes on high. We want to welcome tourist and other sectors don’t want us to serve them.The number of tourist which we wish to arrival in Kashmir during snow fall doesn’t came,” he further added.
The fresh snowfall brought cheer among hoteliers as well, who are expecting a heavy tourist rush in the days to come but hoteliers too have been hit with occupancy rate is very low around valley.
“We think that Snow will bring more tourists to Kashmir. As, we have enough snow at our tourist places where visitors can have fun but nothing such has been done our hotel is zero percent vacant at last this time we have around twenty room booked out of 45,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Manger of paradise hotel .
“We have only 10 to 20 percent booking in Gulmarg and in other hotels of the valley we have zero percent occupancy it is all because of the high in airfares. If this situation remains same the day is not far away when hotels in Gulmarg remain vacant,” said Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry Association Mushtaq Ahmad Wani.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah in a recent tweet had said, “Thus forcing people who had originally spent 5-6000 on a ticket to spent 25-30,000. This is nothing but day light robbery”.