With tourists starting to trickle in during the current autumn season, there is a new ray of hope for stakeholders in the tourism sector, thanks to some nationwide aggressive campaigns by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department with heavy discounts for autumn bookings.
After floods in September 2014, tourists had almost disappeared from Kashmir and for the most part of 2015, the inflow of tourists hadn’t picked up. Although J&K Tourism officials claim that occupancy in hotels has gone up to 85% in the first week of October and a lot of tourists from West Bengal are coming to Kashmir for Puja holidays, hoteliers and house-boat owners say occupancy is not more than 60%.
The BJP-PDP coalition government has kept special funds for reconstruction of assets at tourist spots in the state and the roads damaged in the 2014 floods have been repaired quickly. Eyeing tourists from West Bengal and Gujarat in autumn, the J&K Tourism Department has offered 40% discounts on huts and hotels here. Such measures have brought some cheer to thousands of people connected with the tourist trade here. “Tourism has almost been nil in 2015 so far. We are getting some tourists during this autumn season, but not as much as the government is claiming,” said Sheikh Nissar, a local tour operator.
The state government has taken several steps to revive the tourism industry and rebuild tourism infrastructure and recently ITC Hotels has taken up two projects here. It plans a Rs 300 crore project to revive Nedous’s prime property in Srinagar, which had been with the security forces since militancy broke out in the Valley in the 1990s. It will also take over the Pine-N-Peak, a hotel in Pahalgam, a tourist hotspot.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed inaugurated the Modern Pahalgam Club with state-of-the-art facilities to woo high-end tourists to Kashmir. The Club was inaugurated after Mufti gave a deadline to engineers concerned to complete the work.