It would not be wrong to say that tourism is the spine of Kashmir’s economy. This spine was injured by consistent lockdowns imposed by the government; first after abrogating special status of the erstwhile state and then pandemic induced lockdown.
When tourists started to again visit the valley, the tourism players are allegedly trying to recover their losses in the past by hiking up the prices. Taking a note of the situation, the government has directed the hotel keepers to not boost the prices as it will hurt everyone in the sector whose livelihood depends on these tourists.
Inayat Ahmad, owner of Aala Tours and Travels said that the many hotel managements have hiked up the prices even in the off-season. He said that hotels charge tourists on the basis of on-season and off-season. Off-season rates are applicable from October to March and on-season rates include time period from April to September. However, this year tourists have started pouring in even as early as now so, the hoteliers have increased the prices.
Inayat said that the tour and travel operators have to suffer huge losses as they have already fixed the amount of their clients’ whole travel package. He said that they have to pay from their own pockets.
Owner of Duke Kashmir Travels, Rayees Ahmad said that some of the hoteliers want to cover their losses of one and a half year within a month. He alleged that the hoteliers are increasing their rent every few weeks. Rayees said that since they already fix an amount with their clients, so they have to suffer financially.
He said that they don’t know if the tariff hiked by these hotel managements have been discussed with the government or not. He demanded that the concerned department must make the rates and category of registered hotels public.
Nisar Ahmad Wani, Managing Director J-K Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC), said that the government has already sent notices to the hoteliers and publicized the notice in newspapers after listening to tour and travel agents’ complaints.
The notice directs all the hotelkeepers of the Kashmir Valley particularly at Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Srinagar to avoid increasing charges under all circumstances. The notice further warns that any complaints “shall be dealt with strictly and swiftly as per provisions under the J-K Registration of Tourist Trade Act”.