Terror hits tourism again

Scared holidaymakers cancel bookings in Kashmir

The prevailing law and order situation has dealt a serious blow to tourism in Kashmir as hoteliers, travel agents and houseboat owners say a flood of cancellations of bookings has struck them.

Rouf Tramboo, president of Travel Agents’ Association of Kashmir (TAAK) on Friday here said: “Since the middle of February, things started changing. Normally, the tourist season starts from March and April. Most of the bookings for these two months have already been cancelled. Nearly 30 per cent to 40 per cent of bookings for coming months have been cancelled so far,” he said.

“Bookings from May onwards, which we still have, are also threatened, as the media hypes the fidayeen attack in Srinagar,” Tramboo said.

Vikas Yadav, general manager of the high-end Taj Vivanta Resorts in Srinagar, says bookings for March and April have been washed out.

“We were scheduled to host four international conferences during these two months. All of them now stand cancelled. Besides this, a Bollywood film unit arriving here this month has also cancelled its visit. Unless things start improving fast, we fear really bad times,” he  said.

Abdul Aziz Tuman, chairman of Kashmir Houseboat Owners’ Association, has an even more bleak view of things: “We are faced with a flood of cancellations. The fidayeen attack comes as a blow to us. March and April are already wiped out, as far as houseboat bookings are concerned. The moment our phones start ringing, we fear it’s another booking cancellation.”

“We are in for really bad times. To make matters worse, the government has increased electric power tariffs etc. We are also burdened by other taxes,” a worried Tuman said.
Shamim Shah, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the Travel Agents’ Association of India (TAAI) does not appear to be less worried than others, but he expects the media to behave more responsibly while reporting about Kashmir.

“The way the media is reporting the situation, people intending to visit Kashmir will  naturally develop cold feet. Don’t we know that even during the curfew hours, tourists are allowed to move around in the Valley? Nobody reports that,” Shah said, adding: “Unless we stop projecting things as if a war is going on in Kashmir, how can tourists be expected to come here?”

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