Srinagar, Feb 28: The tourist arrivals here in Kashmir have fallen to a trickle amid an escalating crisis between the two countries India and Pakistan. The stakeholders however said that all the efforts were on to reverse the negative impact of continued cycle of violence.
Hundreds of taxis stood idle at the Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, after both the countries have carried out air strikes.
At the TRC taxi stand, taxi drivers said that February and March were usually the busiest season but this year prospects were looking grim.
One of the taxi drivers Imran Ahmad said that taxi business was down by more than 80 percent compared with previous weeks as very few people were in town to visit the famous tourist spots like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Dal lake.
“The situation is very bad for us taxi operators,” he said. “I think the time has come to settle this India-Pakistan conflict for good.”
He said that the main reason for the sudden dip in the tourist flow and the cancellation of the books is the recent escalation between the two nuclear powers and the face-off between India and Pakistan’s air-force.
One of the top hoteliers in Kashmir wished not to be named opine that since tensions escalated between India and Pakistan, the tourism industry has bore the brunt. “After 2016 agitation triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani’s killing, tourism industry is gasping for breath,” the hotelier said.
Kashmir is surrounded by beautiful lakes and stunning snowcapped valleys and adorned with beautiful houseboats and floating markets. This beautiful valley is situated on the banks of the river Jhelum river and known as the ‘Paradise on Earth’. Kashmir is a dream destination for people of Kerala and Kashmir tour package from Kerala is a hot selling tour itinerary. The Must visit places in Kashmir are Sonmarg, Gulmarg,Pahalgam and Dal Lake. A relaxing Shikara ride in Dal Lake is the most interesting activity in Srinagar.
Despite of being a highly militarized area, Kashmir especially tourist places like Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg are completely safe. The Kashmir is as it best and considered safe as any other tourist places in India.
“For many years there has been not even a single instance when a tourist visiting the valley hurt or ill-treated by locals or militants. As the tourism is the main source of income locals treat the tourists as their guests and take the responsibility towards safeguard of tourists visiting the valley,” said Mushtaq Chaya, owner of Reddison chain of hotels in Kashmir.
However, ever since the situation has worsened between India and Pakistan, Kashmir’s tourism industry has received shocker after shocker in the form of cancellation of bookings and flights.
“Somehow, we were hoping for a good tourism season this year, but the war like situation between India and Pakistan has cast shadow on everything. Almost 70 per cent tourist bookings stand cancelled while there are hardly five per cent tourists present in Kashmir at present,” said Mudasir, a tour operator. “The war threat has plunged entire tourism into a deep crisis. Industry is on clutches and the only way to lift it is if India and Pakistan would start a meaningful dialogue on Kashmir, which is the main reason of rift between them.”
The house boat and shikara owners too are disappointed these days owing to the deepening crisis due to the prevailing war like situation between India and Pakistan. (KNS)