DESPITE WITHDRAWAL OF ADVISORY, TOURISM FAILS TO PICK UP Hotels, guest houses, restaurants deserted at Pahalgam

Even as the authorities last week withdrew the advisory issued days before the abrogation of article 370 asking tourists and non-locals to leave the valley, the world famous tourist resort of Pahalgam continues to be deserted. Almost all the B class hotels, guest houses and restaurants at the tourist spot are locked both in the main market and in upper Pahalgam in the absence of tourists.
Local hoteliers and guest house owners could be seen discussing the current situation and its impact on the economy on the road sides or in the lawns of their hotels.
“See this is my hotel. I have locked it on August 3 and since then it remains shut. You can only see the spider webs all around in the rooms,” said a local hotelier, pointing towards the big lock hanging on the front door of the hotel.
Though every sector suffered heavy losses due to the prevailing uncertainty but the tourism sector, he said, remains the worst hit.
Another guest house owner, Javed Ahmad who was part of the discussion said that whenever the situation in Kashmir turns grim, tourism is always the first casualty.
“Kashmir witnessed at least four agitations since 2008. Every time traders, big or small, did some business in the morning and evening hours but the tourism every time was the badly hit,” Ahmad said.
President, Pahalgam hotel and guest house owners association, Mushtaq Pahalgami said the tourism sector this time suffered the worst ever loss.
He said till the end of July, hotels in Pahalgam had 60 to 70 percent occupancy but after the advisory was issued by the authorities asking tourists to leave all the hotels, guest houses and huts remain shut.
Besides , he said, thousands of people who were working in different hotels, guest houses and other commercial establishments at the tourist spot also lost their jobs.
The withdrawal of advisory by the government, Pahalgami said, has failed to attract the tourists. He cited the internet shutdown as the main reason for the tourists not coming to the valley.
“Now everyone books his tour online. How can you expect any outsider to visit Kashmir when he knows there is internet shutdown. I don’t think there is any possibility of tourism picking up unless the internet is restored,” Pahalgami said.
Assistant director tourism, Pahalgam , Zahida Parveen, said that after the withdrawal of advisory tourists have started coming.
“At least three to four tourist vehicles come to Pahalgam every day since the withdrawal of advisory but they don’t stay there for nights but go back,” the tourism officer said.
She said they are hopeful about the tourism picking at Pahalgam in days to come.