Tourist footfall in Valley registers sharp fall post election mayhem

Following a spike in violence, hotel occupancy has dropped to 7% this tourist season from 70% last year.

The numbers have come down to a trickle here after the violence in the recent elections on Srinagar parliamentary seat.

With Election Commission of India (ECI) deciding not to postpone the elections here, the occupancy rate in the hotels has come down to about 7 percent this month. The occupancy rate for the same period last year was 70 percent and Kashmir was awash with tourists before the unrest started in July 2016 after the killing of HM militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani. On each day mere 2,000 to 3,000 arrivals are being registered in Kashmir, said hoteliers.

A cab driver, Fayaz Ahmad, said that the business has sunk this season after the fall in tourist numbers. At the Srinagar international airport, he sat idle with other drivers, talking of “miserable” tourist season.” We would directly ferry the tourists to different locations, but there is no business this spring,” he said.

President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, said that they had pleaded before the ECI that the elections must be postponed, which however didn’t pay any heed.

 “The ECI has not deferred the elections. After the violence during the elections on April 9 the tourist numbers have plummeted,” he said. Wani said that the numbers are unlikely to pick up before the elections and he feared that the entire tourism season would be lost. “The tourism season continues upto June, but this year is completely lost,” he said.

The tourism trade industry has taken a hit since last year and many of the hotels are running in dues with the banks. During a meeting between the tourism department and the different tourist trade associations the grim scenario was discussed, but there is no way out from the current bleak season. Though the Amarnath yatra will begin in June, but the yatris travel directly from base camp at Jammu to the cave shrine without using the amenities in Srinagar and other tourist places.

Senior Vice President of Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA), Abdul Majeed, said that the tourist numbers have fallen despite the road shows that they had put up in different parts of India.

He however said that situation was not “so grim” as it is projected by the national media. “The tourists we have interacted with tell us that it was safe to be in Kashmir. They enjoy the hospitality of Kashmiris, but people outside are fed wrong information,” he said, adding that due to the upcoming elections tourists are skipping Kashmir.

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