SRINAGAR: Just when the tourism season in Kashmir was picking up, the surge in Covid-19 cases has again hit the tourism sector. Tourists are cancelling their bookings. Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) president Abdul Wahid Malik told this daily hotel occupancy has declined.
He said tourists are cancelling bookings and they were receiving scores of calls in this regard. According to Wahid, there have been at least 50-60 cancellations a day. “Since travelers were coming from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, which is witnessing a massive surge in cases, it has led to cancellations,” he said.
Tourist inflow had picked up from October last year and over 2.50 lakh tourists, mostly from the country, had visited during these months. The ski resort of Gulmarg was sold out till January-end. Hoteliers Club Gulmarg president Mukhtar Ahmad Shah said after the rise in Covid cases, there has been a decline in arrivals. “The Covid surge has had an impact on tourist inflow. Some are cancelling bookings. So far, there have been 20-30% cancellations,” he said.
Hoteliers said there may be more cancellations as cases are witnessing a surge not only in J&K but across the country. “With consistent rise in Covid cases, people will prefer to stay at their homes rather than risking to undertake any travel”. The tourism sector in Kashmir has been badly hit by three lockdowns, after the Centre in 2019 scrapped J&K’s special status.