Srinagar: Upsurge in COVID cases due to presence of Omicron variant has once again derailed Kashmir’s tourism sector as the hoteliers are recording over 30 percent cancellations in bookings and dip in tourist arrivals since last few days.
As the tourism players were cheering the return of tourists in good numbers to Kashmir, the sudden surge in COVID cases across India has resulted in a big loss to the local hoteliers and allied service providers.
As per the hoteliers, hotel occupancy in Srinagar and Pahalgam has dipped to 20 percent, while Gulmarg is also recording a decline in new arrivals.
Speaking to Greater Kashmir, President Hoteliers Club, Gulmarg Chapter, Mukhtar said that there is a drastic decline in arrivals and they have recorded over 30 percent cancellations for coming days. “COVID has again hit our sector, upsurge in cases have hit travel plans of people across India, which has resulted in the decline in the tourism business. We are also affected by it badly.”
President, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir (CCIK), Tariq Rashid Ghani said that it is unfortunate that the tourism sector was yet to recuperate it has been again hit by the COVID wave. “We are witnessing massive cancellations; if the situation remains the same there will be more booking cancellations which is not good for the business. Hoteliers have been incurring losses from last three years, it was during the last few months the good number of arrivals bought some cheer on their faces, but now with this upsurge, we are back to square one.”
President, Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Owners Federation (KHAROF), Abdul Wahid Malik said that the dip in business started from flight cancellations which were further amplified by COVID resurgence.
“We are witnessing a drastic decline in business, hotel occupancy at Srinagar and Pahalgam is below 20 percent. Each day we are receiving scores of calls from intending tourists canceling their vacation programs,” he said.
President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo said there is a decline of 30 percent in bookings and the number of queries has also dried up.
“The ongoing wave of COVID-19 is having its adverse impact on Kashmir tourism. The majority of our new bookings are getting canceled while those who would plan their trips are delaying,” he said.
“Kashmir hotels were sold out till mid-March. Now gradually the occupancy is dropping and expecting tourists are canceling their bookings due to the fear of COVID-19,” he said.