Malick Asghar Hashmi/Srinagar
“Renovation work is going on in almost all the hotels in Jammu and Kashmir. Others are also seriously considering the idea,” said Mushtaq Chaya, President of the Jammu and Kashmir Hotelier Club.
Till two years ago, the hotel industry of the Union Territory which was on the deathbed, has come alive and is back to its glory due to the rush of tourists. The hotels are also busy redoing their infrastructure to provide modern-day facilities to tourists.
Due to incessant turmoil caused by Pakistan-sponsored terrorism tourists had almost stopped visiting Jammu and Kashmir for nearly three decades. On August 5, 2019, the withdrawal of special status from Jammu and Kashmir and at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, tourists started flocking to Kashmir. Their hoteliers also rose to the occasion and left no stone unturned in encouraging tourists to come.
Mushtaq Ahmed Chaya presenting a gift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Mushtaq Chaya says, “With the change in the atmosphere in the last two years, not only has the number of tourists increased substantially, the revenue of the hotel industries has also increased.
According to the Kashmir Hotelier Club, last year around 1.87 crore tourists came to Jammu and Kashmir. Out of these 22 lakh visited Kashmir. The biggest rush of tourists to J&K is of devotees undertaking the pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi in the Jammu region.
Chayya is positive about this year too being better than last year for the industry. In the current year, 25 lakh tourists are expected to visit Kashmir.
Hotels in Kashmir are declaring full occupancy even in the rainy season. Abdul Ghani, who sells fish in the Dal Lake for almost three decades, says- “My business is doing well. Last year did a great job. This year is expected to be even better.”
Mausam Bakshi, associated with the hotel industry, says – Due to the increased rush, the hotels are falling short of accommodation. Most of the hotels are adding rooms in anticipation of the continuing influx of tourists.
A foreign delegate to G-20 meeting taking a shikara ride in Dal Lake
The Jammu-Kashmir Hotelier Club comprises more than 200 hotels in the UT. Its president Mushtaq Chhaya says that his organization has held several meetings on the issue of expansion as the peace has returned for good and its encouraging people to visit Kashmir.
According to him, the rules regarding the construction of hotels in remote areas of Kashmir are very strict. Since outsiders have not yet shown interest in investing in hotels, the local hotels want to expand their chains by investing in these areas.
According to Mushtaq Chhaya, in areas like Gulmarg, and Sonamarg, if the rules are relaxed a bit, it will help them to carry on their work.
The UT of J&K has laid down strict rules to protect the environment, particularly the vulnerable Dal Lake and other water bodies. In resorts like Pahalgam and Gulmarg, the land mafia had started encroaching upon the forest land to construct hotels.The registration of new Shikaras is banned
The influx of tourists is not only benefitting the industry but small businesses dealing in vegetables, meat, cereals, fruits, handicrafts, farming, transport, etc. are also benefiting.