Pahalgam: In 2016, Nazir Ahmed Shiekh, a hotelier in Pahalgam, had all the 22 rooms of his hotel occupied for the months of April and May. Come 2017, one and a half months of the peak tourism season has already passed but Shiekh has hosted just 150 tourists.
“It is not even the three percent of the occupancy of last year. I have never seen tourism getting affected so badly,” Shiekh told Kashmir Reader.
Sheikh has no hope that tourist arrivals will pick up in coming months. “The situation in valley is grim. It seems to worsen with each passing day. In such a situation we have little hope that tourism will pick up in coming months,” Shiekh, who is also the president of hoteliers association in Pahalgam, told Kashmir Reader.
After the mass uprising, triggered by the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 9 in 2016, protests accompanied by stone throwing have become a norm in Kashmir. The situation worsened further after eight people were killed by the government forces in central Kashmir on the day of parliamentary by-polls in central Kashmir on April 9.
Shiekh says that the tourism sector has a direct link to the situation in Kashmir. “Unless the issue that is keeping the valley on boil is resolved, no sector can grow here. Tourism is a far cry,” Shiekh said.
Owner of the hotel Wonder Land , Javed Ahmed, said that he has only hosted fifty tourists in last four months. “Tourism in Pahalgam was hit like this in early 90s only,” Ahmed said.
Javed Burza, who owns hotel Mount View, said, “Out of 60 rooms in my hotel, hardly 10 are occupied, that too occasionally”.
Assistant director tourism Pahalgam, Bilal Ahmed, said that last year more than five lakh tourists had visited Pahalgam till July 9, when the uprising began.
“We used to receive 7 to 8 thousand tourists per day, but this year the number of tourists visiting Pahalgam is in hundreds. Last month we received only 7000 tourism. You can draw the comparison yourself now,” he said.