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Authorities revoke order asking Gulmarg hotels to cancel pre-bookings to accommodate Khelo India participants

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Srinagar: District authorities in Baramulla on Friday withdrew an order asking hotels to cancel pre-bookings at the ski-resort of Gulmarg to accommodate participants of Khelo India National Winter Games after the move drew sharp criticism.

The order was withdrawn a day after it was issued by the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla.

“The order has been withdrawn,” Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Mohammad Aijaz Asad was quoted as saying by the PTI.

The move had drawn sharp reaction from the National Conference which termed it as “mindless application of government writ”.

Asad said there was no need for such an order to be issued in the first place.

“It was not required,” he added.

Another official in the administration said the hoteliers had already committed to reserve the rooms for the games’ period and, as such, there was no requirement for such an order which only created a controversy.

The order had asked hoteliers to accommodate athletes and officials and cancel pre-bookings of tourists from February 25 to March 03.

In a letter to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Gulmarg, the Additional Deputy Commissioner had asked him to ensure that boarding and lodging facilities are provided to the athletes and officials during the event.

“Further, all pre-bookings, if any, on this account may be cancelled,” the letter read.

The week-long games are scheduled to start on February 25.

The letter had also been sent to president of Hoteliers’ Club Gulmarg chapter Mukhtar Ahmad Shah for compliance.

NC vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah had criticised the order, saying it was “mindless application of government writ”.

“The games are a welcome addition to our calendar but it’s mindless application of government writ when the games become a reason to cancel hotel bookings & inconvenience tourists who have booked flights & made their plans well in advance,” he tweeted.

Another NC leader Tanvir Sadiq had also targeted the administration for the move.

“Khelo India games are all well & good but why at the cost of our regular tourists? What sort of tourism promotion policy is this where the government forces bookings to be cancelled? Spare a thought for those people who booked rooms weeks ago only to be told they aren’t welcome,” he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir in an official press release said that in consultation with stakeholders including District Administration Baramulla, J&K Sports Council and Hoteliers Club, Gulmarg, “mutually agreed formula was devised to ensure that the requisite accommodation is made available for the Khelo India participants and others, without disturbing the tourists’ facilities.”

It said while the Tourism department endevours to promote tourism through different mediums including holding of mega sports events like Khelo India, at the same time the department is committed to ensure that the tourists are provided hassle-free facilities and also best hospitality after taking on board all the stakeholders like hoteliers, travel agents and others.

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