As Christmas Arrives, No Tourist Footfall In Gulmarg

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Most of hotels especially in ski-resort empty; Tour operators say internet gag main reason behind decline in tourist arrival

Owais Gul

For the first time since last many decades, Valley hotels especially in Gulmarg, the famous ski-resort are wearing a deserted look on the eve of Christmas and New Year eve.

According to the wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the tour operators of the Valley said that continuous internet suspension across Kashmir has resulted in decline in the tourist arrival to Kashmir.

“The Valley has witnessed decline in tourist arrival since August this year. But, the continuous internet suspension has added to the miseries of people affiliated with the tourism sector,” Secretary General of Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo told KNO.

Kuthoo also said that tour operators have suffered unimaginable losses in this year. “Internet is the basic tool for tour operators. As the internet gag continues in Kashmir, we (tour operators) are not able to access our emails and other things, thus simultaneously, the bookings got diverted,” he said.

He further stated that it is the time when tour operators gear up for main season, but internet suspension has added to the miseries. “They (government) don’t seem to be very serious in reviewing tourism in Kashmir. Had they been serious they would have restored the internet services,” he added.

TAAK Secretary General further added that it is for the first time since many decades that most of the hotels across Kashmir especially on the eve of Christmas and New Year are empty. “On eve of Christmas and New Year, we would have 100 per cent occupancy in hotels especially in Gulmarg but in this year, we have only 10-15 per cent occupancy in the hotels. Such is the loss being suffered by the hoteliers that they are not even able to run their operational costs,” he added.

The tour operators across Kashmir later demanded immediate restoration of internet services in the Valley.

Pertinently, the internet services were suspended across Kashmir in the intervening night of August 4-5, when the central government abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the erstwhile State into two Union Territories—Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

However, the Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir, Girish Chandra Murmu recently claimed that the situation across Kashmir has improved and the internet services will be released soon after the situation improves a bit more.

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