‘Our duty to help them’: Kashmiris arrange free boarding, lodging for stranded tourists
File photo of a bunch of tourists on way to Gulmarg (KM/Umar Ganie)
Srinagar: It can only happen in Kashmir where even during the toughest times, the people of the valley set striking examples of hospitality, humanity, and brotherhood.
With the valley battered by continuous snow for the last three days shutting both land and air connectivity, the tourism players here have gone into an overdrive to arrange free boarding and lodging for stranded visitors.
Due to heavy snowfall, all the flights have been cancelled and the highway connecting Kashmir with the rest of the world has been closed for traffic.
Hundreds of tourists, who had arrived in the valley for New Year, have been left stranded due to the cancellation of flights and highway blockade.
Tourism department has collaborated with hoteliers, travel agents, and other service providers to arrange free boarding and lodging for the guests.
Tourism department Tuesday issued a helpline to reach out to the tourists who need any help including accommodation and other services.
Director Tourism, Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani said they have kept the department’s assets available for the tourists who require accommodation.
“It is especially for those tourists who were scheduled to leave, but could not due to snowfall. Many among them will not have the resources or money to stay in the hotels now. So, we have decided to utilize department’s accommodations for such tourists till the weather improves,” he said.
Wani said they have decided to utilize the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation’s (JKTDC) buildings and hotels for the tourists. “We issued helpline numbers through radio and other mediums,” he said.
Tourism players too have decided to individually help the tourists who are stranded at different places.
President, Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo told The Kashmir Monitor that they are in constant touch with the tourists.
He said that every stakeholder is offering free services to the tourists including accommodation and food.
“Tourists are our guests and it is our duty to help them out at this point in time. So we are offering accommodation and food free of cost. We too are helping out the tourism department in identifying the tourists who have exhausted their resources,” he said.
Kuthoo said that Gulmarg is currently completely occupied by the tourists, while bookings for January also have surged.