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Rising airfares affecting tourism in Valley

Kashmir is turning into a destination that pinches the pockets of tourists, as air fares have increased significantly. Consequently, it has caused distress among stakeholders in the tourism industry across the region. The union aviation ministry’s intervention is sought in the matter.

Right now, the complaint behind the airfare comes with a familiar refrain, which is that the airlines need to bring down the unaffordable prices. On an average, the economy class air travel for an individual this week from New Delhi to Srinagar starts around above Rs 10,000, making the future tourist arrivals bleak to the Valley. Apart from air fares, high hotel prices add to the burden of tourists, with the price of an ordinary double-bedroom per night cost in the range of Rs 7000-Rs 10000.

Nasir Shah, chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance (JKTA) said, ‘there is a sudden drop in the tourist arrivals. The exorbitant air fares have affected our overall businesses.’

He delved into the internal businesses of this fare hike by blaming the big travel operators for advance bookings of tickets. ‘Currently, a ticket is priced around Rs 3000 for November. Big companies and operators pre-purchase the tickets in advance from airlines and sell it in packages. Thus airlines retain limited seats with them and it results in air fare hike,’ Shah told the Millennium Post, seeking aviation ministry’s help to avoid this situation.

Last year saw a bumper tourist season. However, the stakeholders appear pessimistic about the future trade citing lack of accountability from government side. ‘The return air fare to China, Malaysia and Thailand is cheaper than one-sided fare here. Another factor is unjustifiable hotel prices. The hoteliers aren’t accountable before the government for exorbitant prices as there is no classification of hotels as per the official ratings.
Moazum Mohammad

Moazum Mohammad

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