Vox Populi: Kashmir tourism- A victim of vicious conspiracy or just too unfortunate?
THE PROBLEM WITH RISING AIRFARE!
It seems that the airlines have virtually started believing the popular dictum ‘heaven on earth’ with regard to Kashmir and subsequently hiked the airfare beyond the reach of an average tourist assuring that not many people should visit heaven!
The airfares to Srinagar have touched new heights just in the beginning of the summer season here. The rates have a direct impact on the tourist inflow to the valley and given the hike, the tourism industry is set to face another set of challenges this year as well.
Saleem Iqbal Qadri of Kashmir Images speaks to a wide range of people, stakeholders to get a clear idea about the issue.
Mahmood Shah, (Director Tourism)
It is a very discouraging fact that the travellers are facing huge crisis’s while booking the tickets. Our department spoke to civil aviation ministry many times and raised the issue to resolve this problem, but we are yet to receive any information from the ministry. This kind of problem has been occurring from many years and the state government, as a matter of fact, has been taking up the issue with the concerned authorities every single time. While assurances are given each time, there are still problems in on the ground level.
The Air fares are persistently shooting up from several years and not just this year. As the tourist inflow picks some momentum, the airfare unfortunately goes up resulting in discouraging many tourists who then prefer other designations over Kashmir. It is a detrimental trend and jeopardises the tourism sector here leaving all stakeholders in dire financial situations.
As part of our home work- we have already met nearly all Chief Ministers of all states and apprised them regarding the issue. But unfortunately nothing concrete has been done yet and people associated with tourism sector here are facing severe conditions and challenges.
JIBRAN KHAN (Founder joint adventure Tours)
This is really shocking for tourism industry and the players. The airfares went high and government knows it very well that such a situation is only discouraging people to visit Kashmir. Frankly speaking, I suspect that there are people at the helm of the affairs who do not want that tourism industry in Kashmir prospers and that is why when we compare the airfares of Kashmir with rest of tourist destinations in India, we are shocked to see the disparity.
Bashir Damna (Damna Adventure Tour and Travels)
I think both the state and the central government is responsible for this disparity. We are seeing this rate hike only for Srinagar sector and if you want travel from Delhi to Mumbai or else you will find very reasonable ticket. This has been happening from several years now and despite the fact that the tourim players have brought the same into the notice of those who are the helm of affairs, nothing has really changes and as a result our 85 percent hotels are empty here in Kashmir right. We discussed it with the government and seminars were organized outside Kashmir valley where tour operators raise the same issue and appealed respective governments to look into the matter.
Zaffar Malik (ITC Hotel Manager)
The rise in the airfare has hit the tourism industry very badly and it has been happening from several years now. We have only about 20 percent of tourists, who are good budget tourists, reaching here while as eighty percent of tourists divert to other places owing to the same issue of raised airfare If the government intends to boost Kashmir as a class tourist destination then reasonable rates should be assured first. Knowing that the Srinagar- Jammu highway isn’t in the ideal condition and weather eventualities make it more uncertain, the government must take steps to resolve this issue of raised airfare in order to ensure that people associated with tourism industry here are not pushed to the wall.
Shabir Beg:- CEO Marias Hotel / Marias Kashmir Holidays
While the government as well as private players have done tremendously well in creating awareness regarding the scintillating and breathtaking beauty of Kashmir, it seems that those at the helm of affairs don’t want tourists to visit Kashmir. The rise in the airfare is a clear indication that Kashmir is being targeted while airfare to other destinations is considerably less.
We had confirmation regarding some bookings but the clients are thinking about cancelling their trip owing to the raised airfare. Apart from the negative media campaigns launched to being a bad name to tourism industry in Kashmir, raking up the airfare becomes yet another blow to the tourism industry. This we, tourism players will be in great trouble if the government doesn’t intervene and sort things out.
Tariq Rashid Ghani, Gen , Secretary J&K Hotelier Club
We spoke to Chief Ministers of different states last time and asked them to fix the airfare at reasonable rate so that tourists can visit Kashmir and enjoy the natural beauty.
We had proposed 2500 for one way journey as it is only one hour from Delhi. But I can say that the Civil Aviation Ministry isn’t interested in bringing the rates down and, to me, it looks like a deliberate attempt to destroy tourism industry of Kashmir. Recently I travelled from Delhi to Srinagar and paid INR 16000 which is too high than last many years.
Ghulam Ahmad Kuloo (All J&K Shikara Workers Union President)
If government is claiming tourism to be the backbone of Kashmir economy and the sector provides huge employment to those who are affiliated with this profession, why wouldn’t they (govt.) check the issue with the airfare with the central ministry and bring about a consensus. The rise in the fare is a clear indication that this year also Kashmir is going to suffer due to less inflow of tourists.
We were expecting a very good season this year but unfortunately it seems going down the same lane this year as well. We request Chief Minister to take up issue with centre so that this travel crisis will come to an end once for all.
Kashmir has fulfilled the tourist appetite of Indian tourists and foreign tourists. If the price of passenger air tickets becomes outrageous, most of them simply won’t fly here. I think we also need to blame the prevailing problems in the Indian airline industry including not paying the workers and the recession in the industry. Of late, we saw mergers happening for economic sustenance’s and some of the airlines also closed down their commercial operations and concentrated on logistical operations. The debate of aircraft fuel hike also flares up every now and then. With the result, airline taxes have increased that affects the passenger’s base fare. But, as common people, we simply cannot run away from our responsibilities.