Srinagar: Fifty-year-old Mahesh Puri from Maharashtra enjoyed every bit of Kashmir during his 10-day stay.
When he was about to take sweet memories home, the weather played a spoilsport and his flight to Mumbai was cancelled. Left with little money, a hotelier came to his rescue by offering him a discount of 50 percent on lodging and food.
“It was a nice gesture. I had almost exhausted all my money during 10 days in Kashmir. Everyone here offered me a stay at their home. Now I am staying in a hotel till my flight resumes,” he said.
Puri is not an isolated case. Scores of the tourists, whose flights got cancelled, have been accommodated in the hotels either on discounted rates or free of cost.
“I have almost 40 rooms in my hotel. We have accommodated tourists who are stranded due to the flight cancellation. Those who can afford have been offered a 50 percent discount. Some are given free food and accommodation,” said Wahid Ahmad Malik former president of Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association, who owns Hotel New Park in Srinagar.
For the second day on Wednesday, many flights were cancelled due to the “poor visibility on the runway.”
Rahul Bisht,32, of Delhi was eager to share the excitement with his family back home in New Delhi. Luck had however other things store for him. His flight was cancelled and he was left stranded at the airport. “I waited for hours, but at the last moment my flight got cancelled,” he said.
Chaos was witnessed at Srinagar airport as hundreds of passengers jostled to check in only to know that the flights have been cancelled. Flight operation is also likely to be disrupted on Thursday as MeT has predicted wet weather.
Travel agents said the frequent cancellation of flights was causing a huge loss to the tourism sector.
“Mass cancellation of flights has happened previously too. It is causing a lot of inconveniences to travelers and a huge loss to the hospitality sector. Stranded travelers are at odds with the situation,” said Travel Agents Association of Kashmir president Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo.
He said the travel agents are managing the accommodation for the stranded tourists.
“For budget tourists, we provide free accommodation. For high-end tourists discounted rates are being provided for boarding and lodging. It is causing a huge problem to us as well,” he said.
Deputy Director, Tourism, Ahsan Ul Haq Chisti told The Kashmir Monitor that the department has issued a helpline for the convenience of stranded tourists.
“We have issued a helpline and officers have been deputed to assist tourists. We are ready to provide assistance to the tourists who are stranded here,” he said.