Srinagar: Small hoteliers are under heavy financial duress as budget tourists are giving Kashmir a miss post Unlock 2.0.
Currently, Kashmir is mostly hosting high-end tourists, who prefer to book Category -A (five star and high-end) hotels, which comprise a negligible 12 percent of the total hotels.
There are 1400 Category B, C, and D hotels in Kashmir. Currently they are witnessing occupancy of just 20-30 percent.
“The five star or high-end hotels in Kashmir are booked for another three months. Currently, they have 100 percent occupancy, while the budget category has some 20 – 30 percent occupancy in Kashmir,” said Waheed Ahmad Malik, former president of Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant owners Association.
He said budget category hoteliers have incurred huge losses in the last two years. With footfalls dropping, the hoteliers are staring at a bleak future.
“We have 1600 hotels registered in Kashmir and budget category forms a major chunk. Thousands of people are associated with these hotels. The promotions too couldn’t happen on a large scale this year due to the pandemic,” Malik said.
Travel agents claim that the pandemic has affected middle-class people, who are not ready to travel and spent money. “The budget category tourists have not visited the valley for the last three months. Only high-end tourists mostly visit now due to the suspension of the international tourism,” said Travel Agents Association of Kashmir president Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo.
He said they have urged the administration to start promoting budget tourism. “We held a meeting with the administration recently and urged them to promote and invite budget class tourists so that hoteliers and travel agents do not suffer,” Kuthoo said.
Tourism in Kashmir has started picking up again after the government relaxed the lockdown norms and completely lifted the day curfew.
Destinations including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonmarg are abuzz with tourists.
An official said the department is contemplating resuming its promotional activity for the autumn and winter season. “We may soon start our promotions in different states,” he said.