SRINAGAR: Mohammad Hussain has been working in a well-known hotel at Pahalgam for last 18 years, but he has never witnessed such a low tourist footfall.
Even in the peak years of militancy, Hussain says, considerable number of tourists would visit the famous tourist resort in south Kashmir. This year, Hussain is sitting idle with little or no work at all, reports Rising Kashmir.
“It is difficult to survive in the hotel business now. We had 60 people working as staff in our hotel but due to unprecedented cancellations of bookings after July 2016 the occupancy rate came down sharply due to which we had to cut down our staff. We now have just 20 people working with us,” says Hussain.
Tourism sector is one of the largest employment providers in the valley, but it suffered a body blow in the unrest of 2016. Last year, the tourist inflow was good till July 8 when Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani was killed.
Ajaz Ahmad Shah, PG history and B.Ed graduate who hails from district Kupwara, works as a security guard at a Srinagar-based hotel. Shah earns meager Rs 7000 per month as he was forced to work on half pay.
“I had applied for various jobs, but nothing has happened yet. I needed money urgently for my wife’s medical treatment so I had no other option.”
As per reports, tourism sector suffered Rs 4000 crore loss last year also resulting in 60 percent staff cut in the hospitality sector. This year as per official records there has been a further dip of 56% in tourist arrivals.
Director Tourism, Mahmood Ahmad Shah said, “There has been a decline in tourist arrivals this year as compared to last year and clearly losses would be more this year.”
A number of retail shops in the famous hill stations of Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Gulmarg remain closed as people are not willing to rent a shop or a structure for doing business.