Kashmir tourism: Arrivals are dismal and hotel occupancies negligible

SRINAGAR, India - After the devastating floods in September, the ongoing Assembly elections have shattered the states tourism sector resulting in 2014 performing below the average levels as far as tou

Kashmir tourism: Arrivals are dismal and hotel occupancies negligible

SRINAGAR, India – After the devastating floods in September, the ongoing Assembly elections have shattered the states tourism sector resulting in 2014 performing below the average levels as far as tourist arrival is concerned.

While as Kashmir received more than one million tourists for the last few years, the tourism traders said that the arrivals for 2014 haven’t exceeded 5 lakh resulting in huge losses to all the stakeholders.

“The raging floods of September left the tourism sector in doldrums manifested in the low arrivals post the floods. Moreover, the ongoing elections have aggravated our problems as the arrivals are very discouraging these days,” president of Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir, Rouf Tramboo told ‘Kashmir Images.’

Tramboo said that the tourism sector suffered losses to the tune of crores of rupees. “We are eagerly awaiting the completion of the elections and hoping that the coming winter season proves to be a bang to tide over some of the losses suffered since the flood times,” adds the noted tourism trader.

Notably, the five phased assembly elections are currently undergoing across the state with the last and fifth phase ending on 20th of this month. Encouraging and impressive voter turnout has been recorded in the polls across the state.

The elections have kept the security forces and law enforcement agencies on their toes in the process of ensuring that polls pass-off peacefully. Moreover, people across the state have vehemently involved themselves in the election process to elect their representatives.

“People from all walks of life are busy with the elections this year. The whole security apparatus is engaged to oversee the poll process and it is where the security of the tourists loses the ground.

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“The tourists themselves are eager to visit Kashmir in the wake of approaching winter but they know that they cannot experience favourable environs unless the elections are over,” adds the reputed trader.

He added that the tourist arrivals during the November-December period earlier was way high than the dismal figures registered during the same period this year. “2013 was hundred times better than 2014. The reasons are for everyone to see,” said Tramboo.

The Kashmir based hoteliers too share the similar concerns saying the occupancy in hotels across the Valley is disappointing. “First the September floods damaged our business prospectus. When the post flood situation raised hopes of tourists coming back the timing of the elections played the spoilsport.

“We have reports that occupancy in hotels in hovering between zero to three percent which is way below the encouraging bookings recorded last season,” says Chairman of J&K Hoteliers Club, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya.

The reputed hotelier adds that timing of the current elections and the September floods have made 2014 an unforgettable year for all the stakeholders with the tourist arrivals falling way below the expected mark.

“2014 was a disappointing year for Kashmir tourism,” says president of Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association, Showkat Ahmad Chowdhary. He adds that there are only dismal reports of occupancy from hoteliers across the Valley which Chowdhary said is below the figures recorded during the same period last year.

“We had a situation where we could do noting…first the September floods was a natural disaster. Then the timing of the ongoing elections wasn’t in our hands,” said Chowdhary further while expecting the coming winter season to be a bumper affair.

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