NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: Soon after the Centre issued an advisory to all tourists and Amarnath Yatris to quit Kashmir in view of a terror threat, Aqib Chaya felt the impact in far away Sonamarg.
Chaya, a hotelier with major assets in several tourist centres said, 50 to 60 per cent tourists in health resorts of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg left soon after the announcement and the remaining were packed and waiting to exit Saturday afternoon.
“The officials have already pasted the government advisory for tourists to leave at the reception counters of all hotels and tourists having seen it have packed up. The advisory will deal a death blow to tourism and pauperize Kashmiris,” he rued. Former CM Omar Abdullah said friends staying in hotels in Gulmarg had been ‘forced to leave’. “State Road Transport Corporation buses are being deployed to bus people out from Pahalgam and Gulmarg. If there is a threat to the yatra, why is Gulmarg being emptied?” Omar tweeted.
PDP chief CM Mehbooba Mufti said, “You are forcing tourists to leave Valley. It has caused fear among the locals. I have never seen such kind of fear among people,” she said. In view of the advisory and tourists vacating the health resorts, the prices of air tickets shot up drastically by late evening with one portal selling a ticket at Rs 11,000 for Delhi.
Air India and Indigo announced to provide a full refund on rescheduling and cancellation for all flights to and from Srinagar till August 9. In New Delhi, tour operators received worried calls from people scheduled to visit the Valley in the next few months. Travel website ixigo expects a decrease in bookings in the coming weeks. Its co-founder Rajnish Kumar said, “We’ve received over 400 queries regarding booking cancellations.” Swan Tours faced four cancellations post-advisory.