Kashmir unrest; Rs 4,000 cr loss to Kashmir tourism


Srinagar: With the ongoing Kashmir unrest, Kashmir tourism have suffered a massive loss. As the tourist arrivals to Kashmir have trickled down drastically in the wake of ongoing unrest, the local tourism industry is believed to have suffered a massive Rs 4,000 crore loss.

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Prior to July 8, the tourism industry was upbeat over “good number of arrivals” they were recording after suffering huge losses due to 2014 deluge and flood scare in 2015.

However, the mass uprising in Kashmir in the wake of killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani and followed by civilian killings, the Kashmir tourism sector has been badly hit with tourist arrivals drying up drastically leaving the stakeholders high and dry.

As per government estimates, the tourism sector has suffered Rs 4000 crore loss till now with massive cancellations.  "The tourism destinations and hotels, both in private and government sector, have been worst affected and most of the hotels are left with zero occupancy," said an official adding that around three lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July and September last year, the tourist footfall in the Valley for the corresponding period of the current year is just about a trickle, he said.

As per official figures, 10,059 tourists visited the Valley between August 1 to 12, against 89,243 tourists during the corresponding period a year earlier. From August the number has fallen drastically. The officials said several film crews were scheduled to be in Kashmir for shooting of films during summer. “They changed their destination in view of the prevailing situation in the Valley.”

All this has hit the tourism players badly causing huge losses. “I have Rs 30 lakh bookings for this season. My hotel was completely sold out till September, but due to unrest I had to refund all the money as all the bookings were cancelled,” said a leading hotelier of Kashmir.

As mass cancellations of booking broke the back of tourism sector, the uncertain future due to continuous strikes is further affecting their future business prospects.
“Tourism and transport are worst sufferers of this unrest. The tour operators and hoteliers have been badly hit,”  said a hotelier wishing anonymity.

“We are in a fix, now this season has gone, but we are not even confident whether we can sell upcoming seasons or not as the situation on the ground is not changing much due to government’s rigid approach. It seems New Delhi has forgotten that there is place in India called Kashmir which is burning and needs political intervention,” he added.

“Tourism is subservient to peace; there is no doubt about it. How shall we attract outside backpackers to Kashmir when everyday they hear news about the violence and killings?,” said a hotelier who has closed his hotel saying he will not open it till March.

Travel agents and tourism players stated their promotion programs find no takers outside the state. “Even the CM who participated in a tourism fair in Delhi was greeted with negative response,” they said adding that they are caught in a quagmire.

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