December 2017 News

Hoteliers Switch Businesses As Tourist Influx Hits Rock Bottom

20 December 2017
Rising Kashmir
Mir Baseerat

Srinagar: Owing to the continued slump in the tourist footfall, Kashmir hoteliers are switching their properties for other commercial use to recover the losses. Hoteliers also rue government's attitude towards the industry in the backdrop of the financial losses they suffered for past many years. Abdul Wahid, President Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Owners Federation (KHAROF), said that they haven't received any compensation from the government of the losses. 'The government didn't even compensate us for 2014 floods which.' Although Kashmir witnessed political upheavals in 2008 and 2010, the things settled down in 2011. However, in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen top commander Burhaan Wani on July 2016 things have not been settled. Wahid said many hotels are only partially functional. 'This year some hotels at Boulevard hardly earned Rs 200 to Rs 300 a day. Instead of working for being operational for six months, the hotels get bookings for 2 months only.' Former president of KHAROF, Javaid Bashir Burza said many hotels are closing down particularly in hill resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam. Sajad Ahmad, who owns a hotel at Khayam in Srinagar, also plans to switch over to some other business. 'I know many hoteliers who rented out rooms to meet their expenses. Tourism industry has received a body blow and some of the people associated with the trade are having tough times,' he said. The hotel owners have also cut jobs for past two years. 'I can't tell the exact figure but around 70% employees in hotels must have lost jobs. I had around 200 staff members for my hotels and I have kept only about 60,' said Burza. Burza complains that the situation of the hotel industry is so grim that some hotels have offered their buildings to Estates department and security forces. 'Under this situation, government also hasn't provided any monetary or tax relief. Instead it has imposed GST on us.' 'Government has to do something for rejuvenating the tourism industry.' The hoteliers also expressed concern over the negative portrayal of Kashmir by national electronic media. 'Kashmir is being portrayed as a warzone like Syria. Once things will be portrayed properly we will get tourists and bookings for 2018 as well,' Burza said.

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