Valley’s travel agents hold protest against unethical trade practices by some hoteliers, service providers

Srinagar: Valley’s travel agents Friday held a peaceful sit-in here at Press Enclave to observe a black day and to protest the unethical trade practices by some hoteliers and other service providers in the tourism sector.
The sit-in was organised under the banner of Joint Coordination Committee of Travel Trade to highlight the unfair trade practices and government’s inaction to curb the menace which is bringing bad image to Kashmir’s rich hospitality sector.
Speaking on the occasion, spokesperson of Coordination Committee Farooq Kuthoo said the hoteliers have hiked the hotel tariffs disproportionately by 200 to 300 percent besides providing maximum inventory to online portals and outside companies leaving local travel agents high and dry and with limited business opportunities.
He said the local travel agents are not able to book the packages as most of the hotels have been sold out to outside companies who are not even registered with the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department.
The spokesman said the rampant hoarding of hotel rooms, profiteering and black marketing by some hoteliers and online travel portals have wreaked havoc in tourism industry and caused a lot of grief and mental agony to local travel and tour operators.
Besides, the spokesman said, the tourist taxi operators have also arbitrarily hiked the charges making Kashmir not only an expensive destination but many beautiful areas at the resorts have become unaffordable for the common tourists.
In order to address the issues, the spokesman said, the tour operators held series of meetings with hoteliers and the government authorities to expose the mafia “but the government’s inaction has disappointed them”.
“We are compelled to organise the sit in to expose some hoteliers and their nexus with outside companies and online portals which have grabbed maximum share in Kashmir tourism.
Though, there is an impressive rush of tourists to Kashmir but this is benefiting everyone but local travel agents. It seems the hoarding and black marketing mafia has some hidden agenda to deprive local travel agents of the business opportunities,” said the travel agents during sit in.
The spokesman said government formed a coordination committee to adress the issues but nothing has happened as rampant black marketing, hoarding still persists.
The Spokesman questioned why the government has been silent on non local travel companies which conduct business without being registered with the department of tourism.
The protesters, besides demanding hotel rating categorisation, also sought regulation of tariffs and tourist taxi charges.
The travel agents said most of the travelers are leaving back from Kashmir with bad memories due to unregulated tariffs and service charges bringing bad image to Kashmir tourism.
The local tour operators further said due to the huge rush, the tourists are being ferried in private vehicles as the government has banned issuing new vehicle permits to tour operators.
“Due to the huge rush, we have run out of tourist taxis. We had sought permits from registering authorities so that travel agencies can bring new taxis to meet the demand. However, due to the non-issuance of new permits, many tourists are being ferried in private vehicles to meet the demand,” he said.
All the members of TASK, TAAK, JKTA, PILTOF, DTOAK, UTAA, TAFOK, TTIG , AKTO & Chapters TAAI , IATO and ADTOI joined the sit in protest to press for their demands.

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