Airfare puts Valley tourists off

Air carriers deliberately make J&K costly destination, allege bizmen

As this year’s tourism season has just started in Kashmir, steep hike in airfares has made Valley an unaffordable destination for holidaymakers from other parts of the country.

At the moment, the airfare on Srinagar-Delhi sector starts from Rs 12,000 and goes up to Rs 25,000 while the airfare from Jammu to Srinagar is over Rs 10,000. 

On the same routes, two months ago, the airfare was somewhere between Rs 3,500 and Rs 5,000.

The airfare from Delhi to several tourist destinations in rest of the country is less as compared to that to Kashmir. While from Delhi to Kashmir it is minimum Rs 12,000, from Delhi to Jaipur it is just Rs 4,000. Again, from Delhi to Shimla, the airfare ranges from Rs 7,000 to 9,000.

The skyrocketing of airfares has worried stake holders in state's tourism industry who allege that the air carriers in connivance with tourism traders of some other states are deliberately making Kashmir a costly destination.

Rouf Tramboo, president of travel agents association of Kashmir, says the steep airfares have been a big loss for the tourism industry. “We are losing tourists because of the steep hike. Those who book tickets in advance don’t face problems but somebody who wants to travel to Kashmir with family and decides it in a week’s time has to drop the idea,” he told Deccan Herald.

“From time to time, we took up this issue with Rangarajan Committee, Centre’s interlocutors on Kashmir, civil aviation ministry and Chief Minister of J&K but even then they couldn’t help us,” Tramboo added. 

He said, now with no option left, tourism players contemplate to approach Supreme Court. “We are now fed up with our pleading and submissions to the authorities. It seems the only alternative before us is to take legal action against the air carriers for unilaterally and arbitrarily hiking the fares,” he added.

Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, G M Dug alleged that there are some unscrupulous elements trying to affect tourism in the state. “How can you expect them to come to Kashmir when airfares will cost more than Rs 20,000 per head which is way ahead of their budget,” he said. 

Locals especially patients and students also suffer due to high airfares. “Kashmir has no train connectivity with rest of the country and if a patient, coming from Delhi or from any other place in India to Kashmir, has no other alternative than to come by air. The steep airfares make it extremely difficult for them to afford the journey,” said Mouzam, a student.

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