The tourism players say it was high time when more tourists would have visited Valley but the increase in airfare rates is forcing the tourists to choose other tourist destinations that are cheaper than Kashmir.
“The air fare from Delhi to some foreign countries is less than Delhi-Srinagar voyage. Why would a tourist visit Kashmir if he has options of visiting other foreign destinations in low packages? The airfare to Srinagar is unreasonable and there is no justification for airlines to raise the fare charges to the extent they have done,” said President Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Owners Federation (KHAROF), Faiz Ahmad Bakhshi.
Bakhshi further said that the state government should intervene in the issue as they (tourism Players) can’t afford to lose tourists at this time.
“The tourists have started visiting Valley in a good number but with the increase in airfare rates to Srinagar, the tourists are getting diverted to other destinations which we don’t want to happen, for which the state government needs to take up the issue with the central government,” he added.
President Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK), Muhammad Ibrahim Sia expressed dismay over the soaring air fares and said that it has adversely affected Kashmir tourism. “Hike in air fares will lend a severe blow to Valley tourism industry and we will incur heavy losses. The tourist finds it cheap to visit countries like Malaysia, China, and Singapore as compared to Kashmir because of the unprecedented increase in the airfare charges to Srinagar,” Sia said.
President Travel Agents Association Kashmir (TAAK), Rouf Tramboo claimed that it seems there is a deep-rooted conspiracy regarding Valley tourism industry as Srinagar is the first place where airfare rates get increased. He said that the state government should meet the aviation minister and should solve the matter; otherwise it would be another setback for the Kashmir tourism industry.
“It is unfortunate that every year when tourists start visiting Kashmir, the airlines increase the airfare without any justification. The airfare rates from Delhi to Bangkok or Dubai is very low as compared to Kashmir, so a tourist will prefer to visit these places rather than Kashmir and for all this, the airlines are responsible,” he said.
However, Director Tourism Kashmir, Talat Parvaiz said that they have already discussed the issue with Civil Aviation Ministry and they hope, government of India(GOI) will put an upper cap on the airfare rates so that people will not have to cancel their trips to Kashmir. “We have discussed the issue of higher cap on the airfare rates to Srinagar with GoI and we hope something good will come out in the coming days which will help us to bring more tourists to Kashmir,” he added.