After lean summer, autumn not expected to be any better

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Srinagar, Sep 12: With tourism showing no signs of improvement, the upcoming autumn too is unexpected to bring the stakeholders in Kashmir any luck.
Summer tourism took a hit when situation turned volatile following the civilian killings during Srinagar parliamentary by-polls in April.
At present, the hoteliers witness nearly 20 per cent reservations, with the low percentage making the tourism players worried.
“For autumn, we usually witness advance bookings from tourists from places like Bengal and Gujarat. But this year there are no requests for reservations, which means the autumn too will be bleak,” Farooq Kuthoo, General Secretary Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), said.
He said less than five per cent of the tourists were staying in the hotels compared to the previous autumn seasons.
“Even travel agents had announced discount in their packages, but still we find no takers,” Kuthoo said.
President Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK), Ibrahim Siah, claimed that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation by the state government in July had equally discouraged the tourists.
“Already, Kashmir is considered a costly tourist destination, and the GST implementation has made it even costlier, as more taxes have been included in the package. People always prefer to tour to a destination which is affordable to them,” he said.
He apprehended that the autumn may be also affected if department doesn’t conducts promotional campaigns outside valley.
“The promotions are going on by the department. We saw a new video coming up featuring Bollywood starts Amitabh Bachan and Hema Malini. Hope such efforts bring tourist back to valley in huge number,” Siah said.
Prominent hotelier, G M Dug hoped that instant bookings may come during autumn if situation remains calm ahead.
“As of now, there are no bookings, but there are chances we can get some instant bookings during autumn. In many states like Gujarat and West Bengal people prefer to tour to various places to spend their Diwali and pooja vacations,” he said.
An official from the tourism department said the department would conduct various promotional campaigns in Kashmir and outside states to attract tourist.
“The department would hold one adventure campaign ahead. Further, various films have been made by filmmakers which are equally supported by the department,” he said.

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