SRINAGAR: In the backdrop of the government’s plan to develop Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) in Srinagar city for waste management, the Valley hoteliers have demanded moratorium period and suspension of the ban on the operation of the hotels having more than 19 rooms and running without a STP.
A delegation of hoteliers under the banner of the Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association (KHARA) and Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) recently met Tourism Minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Environment Minister Mian Altaf Ahmad and National Conference Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani in Jammu and demanded the ‘moratorium period’ for hoteliers.
“We met tourism minister and apprised him about the problems hoteliers in particular and the tourism sector in general is facing due to the ban on hotels which don’t have STPs. We have asked for the suspension of the ban so that hotel rooms which are locked can be opened for tourists,” said KHARA president Showkat Chowdhary.
He said tourism season has already set in but the hotel rooms are locked which will badly affect tourism sector in the state this year also.
“We have been reiterating our demand that hotels should be allowed to operate without STPs. We have informed the government that installing STPs is not viable and technically feasible for individual hotelier. Now as government is setting up STPs, we have sought moratorium period from government till the STPs are laid. Individual STPs is not an option,” said Chowdhary.
He said the ban on hotels seems to be a “secret plan to jeopardize” the tourism sector in Kashmir only.
“The law of the land should be applicable to entire state of J&K. We have conveyed our resentment on why the ban is being implemented in Kashmir only and leaving our Jammu city and Katra, which receive more tourists. We are not against Jammu but want the prosperity of all the regions in tourism sector,” said KHARA President. The hoteliers said if government doesn’t act immediately and revoke ban on hotels, the tourism sector would be hit badly.
“We are in a fix whether to promote our properties or not. Tourists want to book hotel rooms but we are not in a position to give them packages. If tourists don’t come, it would impact local economy. There would be unemployment and only government would be responsible,” said KHAROF President GM Dug.
Hoteliers claimed the ban has closed 8000 rooms in Kashmir valley, a huge loss to J&K’s hospitality sector.
KHARA President said with the Darbar move, the government will fall in need of the hotel accommodation.
“During the winter months, the closure of the 8000 rooms was not felt but with the offices shifting back to Srinagar and tourists flow increasing, there would be dearth of bed capacity. Tourists will be forced to cancel their visits to Kashmir,” said Chowdhary.
Hoteliers said government should help promote tourism instead of harming it.
“We have always demanded a comprehensive tourism master plan. Had there been a comprehensive tourism master plan, this crisis would not have emerged. Why are authorities making hoteliers scapegoat by covering their own incompetencies,” said KHARA President.