The Valley hoteliers yesterday said that the tourism infrastructure in Kashmir was in “bad shape” due to a ban on construction works/repairs at tourist spots. “Kashmir has adequate accommodation to host tourists but the hotels are in bad shape due to a ban on construction works/repairs,” the hoteliers said. The hoteliers said that there was need to set up five-star hotels to accommodate high-profile tourists, including foreigners.
“We have 2,000 hotels with 50,000 room capacity in Kashmir, which is sufficient enough to cater to the huge inflow of tourists,” said Showkat Chowdhary, President, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA), and Faiz Bakshi, President, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF). “In 2012, we accommodated more than 12 lakh tourists and there was no space crunch,” they said.
Chowdhary said the two associations “are jointly holding a seminar on ‘Kashmir Tourism’ today at Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) where we will unveil our vision on Kashmir tourism”. He said Kashmir desperately needed five-star hotels and the government should also privatise Centaur hotel as that could be converted into an excellent five-star hotel. Bakshi said the hoteliers were providing jobs to at least 60,000 people in Kashmir and “if the tourism boom continues, 60,000 more unemployed could be adjusted”, according to a report by Mukeet Akmali in greaterkashmir.com. He said that both associations support the idea of cross-LoC tourism. “We believe cross-LoC tourism has more potential than cross-LoC trade,” said Bakshi. Similar views were echoed by Chowdhary.
“We have an infrastructure that can cater to 20 lakh to 25 lakh tourists/year. But if Srinagar receives two lakh tourists at a time, there is going to be a problem,” said Choudhary. The two associations impressed the need for “restoring international status to Srinagar Airport”. “We want flights to and fro Srinagar-Delhi-Dubai and Srinagar-Delhi-Malaysia,” they said. To a question about environmental concern triggered by huge influx of Amarnath Yatris, Bakshi said that they wanted environment-friendly tourism in Kashmir.