SRINAGAR: Despite Jammu and Kashmir administration’s effort to uplift tourism in the state by holding roadshows, as many as 2,700 houseboat rooms are empty and the Houseboat Owners Association has not received a single query from intending travellers since August, 2019. Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association general secretary Abdul Rashid said that all 950 houseboats in Valley are empty right now as tourists are not returning to the region.
“There is zero percent occupancy. All 2700 houseboat rooms ranging from Deluxe to D-category are empty,” he said. The famous Boulevard Road on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar is deserted. The shikara wallas and houseboat owners are sitting idle.
“I used to earn over `1000 per day during the season. However, since August 5, we are waiting for tourists to return to the place and it is not happening yet,” said a shikara walla Abdul Gaffar. He said he and many other shikara wallas in order to earn livelihood are now selling vegetables on the banks of Dal Lake. Another houseboat owner Abdul Majid said despite tourism department efforts to woo tourists to the Valley, the tourists are not returning to the Valley.
Blaming restrictions on internet for tourists not returning to Valley, he said, “Who will come to Kashmir where only 2G mobile internet works with access only to over 1,500 whitelisted websites and all social network sites including Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter blocked. How will businessmen come to Kashmir when he or she cannot remain connected with their employees and other businessmen” Rashid said Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association, which is body of houseboat owners has not received any booking or single enquiry call from any intending traveller post abrogation in August.