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Heavy rains & flash floods hit tourism in Kashmir

Thursday, April 2, 2015, 14:30 Hrs  [IST]

According to a report by Divya Sathyanarayanan in The Economic Times, heavy rains and flash floods have dampened the spirits in Kashmir's tourism industry once again, just when it was getting ready to usher in the new season after putting behind memories of death and destruction wrought on the Valley by last September's massive deluge.

April marks the beginning of the peak tourism season in Kashmir. While Kashmir's popularity as a vacation destination has taken a beating following last year's floods, the fresh floods have dealt another blow to the tourism industry. Cancellations and rescheduling of trips have increased in the past few days, say hoteliers and travel operators. Kashmir's loss could become a boon for neighbouring hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand this summer.

Five-star hotel, The Lalit Grand Palace in Srinagar has lost 40 per cent of its bookings for the upcoming long weekend of Good Friday and Easter, General Manager Jagdeep Nambiar said. Online travel portal, Yatra.com has cancelled 15-20 per cent of the airline and hotel bookings made on its site for this month, and enquiries for the coming months look bleak as tourists wait to see how the situation pans out.

"Flood has come as a dampener and even queries for the future have dried up as nobody seems to be keen on looking at the destination because of what has happened," said Sharat Dhall, COO, Yatra.

Many are staying away from Kashmir because of what the region had gone through last year. The deluge that followed torrential rains had left most of Kashmir inundated, causing large-scale destruction even as authorities remained paralysed. Tourists were trapped without food and water for many days in hotels, often on the rooftops waiting for rescuers to arrive. The situation isn't that bad this time.

According to the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department, the situation is expected to stabilise by next week. "The Met department has predicted intermittent rainfall for the next two to three days. Tourists need not panic as the situation will be back to normal in a week," said Abdul Aziz Mir, Tourist Officer at J&K Tourism.

But tourists are trying to avoid any possible hitches. Sarabjit Singh, Managing Director, Travelite India, said he has received cancellations from three international clients who were to travel to Kashmir in the next 15 days. "People will be worried about the situation for at least a month as the infrastructure in the state would take some time to be restored," said Singh. (Source: The Economic Times)

 
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