Hotel Closures Hit Tourism Sector In Kashmir

Hotel Closures Hit Tourism Sector In Kashmir

27 November 2013
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: The suspension of commercial operations in Srinagar hotels has badly impacted Kashmir’s beleaguered tourism industry, with travel operators complaining massive cancelations. The district administration past week suspended commercial operations in as many as 100 hotels in Srinagar on the directions of J&K High Court. The hotels were operating without Sewage Treatment Plants (STP)s in place. “Where the closing down of the hotels has led to huge cancellations at this time, we fear it will hit our entire winter business,” the tour operators said. “The suspension of commercial operations in the hotels has created a sort of panic among the tourists who stand booked with us. They are fast cancelling their bookings,” a tour operator said. “We fear if the matter is not resolved quickly, it will affect the next tourism season also,” he said. President, Travel Agents Society of Kashmir, TASK, Ibrahim Siah said: “Due to closing down of hotels we are really facing difficult situation. We are not able to sell packages as the tourists outside ask us about the availability of hotels.” Siah who was in Pune attending a Travel Mart said: “I am not able to convince tourists to come to Kashmir. Everyone asks the single question: What is the problem with the hotels in Kashmir. Why they are being sealed.” “Our principal travel agents put lot of pressure as they have already sold packages of Kashmir and in view of the present situation they are demanding refund,” he said. He said the travel agents were already facing lot of problems as they had to shift tourists from hotels closed down by the authorities, to other places. “Sometimes tourists raise hue and cry and demand refund for the inconvenience. It creates a lot of embarrassment for us and gives a bad name to our tourism sector.” Chairman , Indian Association of Travel Operators , JK Chapter , Abdul Khaliq Wangnoo told Greater Kashmir that tourism sector was witnessing fall due to these episodes. “Our sector has suffered a lot during last 20 years. This year tourism season didn’t pick up as there were too many incidents which affected the influx of tourist and now we were hoping that winter season would bring some business but it also has landed into trouble,” he said. President, Travel Agents Association of Kashmir, TAAK, Fayaz Ahmad expressed concern over loss of business due to closing down of hotels in Srinagar. “It is unfortunate that we have to face such a situation. If the situation continues like this, our forthcoming season will also get affected,” he said. President, Adventure Tour Operators of Kashmir, Rauf Tramboo said the travel agents from other states were taking undue advantage of this situation in Kashmir. “They (outside tour operators) are diverting the tourists intending to visit Kashmir, to other states. They have created a sort of panic there. Tourism Department should come out with a solution to safeguard the interest of tourism players.” Pertinently, in compliance to High Court orders the district administration’s suspension drive stopped commercial operations at 100 hotels functioning without Sewage Treatment Plants (STP)s. Earlier, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) had issued closure notices to these hotels for operating without STPs.