May 2019 News

With 10% Occupancy, Kashmir Hoteliers On Verge Of Bankruptcy

28 May 2019
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: With the occupancy rate of hotels and houseboats in Kashmir coming down to 10 percent, the hospitality sector continues to bleed losses pushing the tourism players towards dire straits. According to the hospitality sector insiders, the situation has come to the point that some hoteliers are on verge of bankruptcy. Reason according to leading tourism trade players, is the 'sustained hate campaign' against Kashmir hospitality sector. 'I had invested over Rs 20 crore on setting up a mid range hotel, two years back. But from last year, I have been neither able to pay my EMIs nor am I able to meet the operating costs,' said a hotelier who wished not be named. 'Out of 30 rooms, only two or three are occupied, which means I have to pay idle wages besides other expenses such as electricity bills and maintenance costs,' he said adding that since Pulwama attack even travel agents in the country are refusing to sell Kashmir properties. Jammu and Kashmir government recently stated that around 2 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir, however tourism player state that the number signifies the decline of tourists arrivals in Kashmir. 'Be it an attack on security personnel or encounter at a far- off place, the outside media pans its lens on Kashmir in such a way as if the whole valley is burning. This is our tragedy and to be frank, we have failed to beat this propaganda so far,' said chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, Mushtaq Chaya. 'Our occupancy across Kashmir is not more than 10 percent, which technically means losses for hospitality sector,' he said adding that state and central governments must take pro-active part in reviving the tourism sector which provides livelihood to large chunk of people in the state. Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, Showkat Chowdhary while opining about the decline of tourist arrivals, blamed the state government for its failure to act on time. 'Our government is not doing enough to promote Kashmir tourism. The result of which is that hotel sector is turning into a loss churning sector,' Chowdhary said, adding, 'no efforts are being initiated to beat the propaganda machinery aimed at defaming Kashmir as a tourism destination which is unfortunate on part on the government. ' Chairman SKAL International, Srinagar Chapter, Muhammad Ibrahim Siah said, 'At this time of the year, our hotels and houseboats used to be fully occupied. But see now, hotels are empty, tourist influx has come down to a trickle which is a worrisome for whole Kashmir as this sector generates jobs.' He said that tourism sector has become a soft target and government is not doing any help to safeguard it.