All hotels, houseboats, guests houses booked in advance; those who had shut hotel business reviving it again; Record number of tourists arriving in Valley: Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez; says directions passed to Development Authorities, SMC to ensure waste management
Umaiser Gul Ganai
Srinagar, May 28 (KNO): Jammu and Kashmir government is mulling to revive home stays in Kashmir amid tourism boom to avoid space crunch as all hotels, lodges and guest houses are booked for next two months.
In the past four months, 7,00, 000, tourists visited Kashmir breaking the past ten year’s record. This year, March month recorded 1.80 lakh visitors, the first time in the past one decade. Talking to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) exclusively, Secretary Tourism J&K, Sarmad Hafeez said that the huge tourist influx continues and all hotels, lodges and guest houses at present are booked and have advance booking for at least next two months.
“We are glad to see that the locals who had shut their hotel business are once again reviving it. Many people who had closed their hotels in view of losses are again opening it. Those who have opened their hotels are having huge bookings,” Hafeez said. He said that the government is planning to revive home stays for which fresh guidelines are being worked out and will be issued shortly.
“Home stays had been a major attraction of tourists in the early 70’s and 80’s. We are trying to revive it in view of increasing tourist footfall,” he said. “We are also increasing room capacity at resorts and tourist destinations to avoid space crunch. We are watching the footfall of tourists closely and accordingly steps to accommodate them are being taken in collaboration with various Development Authorities.” “In Srinagar, SMC has been directed to deploy more men to ensure gardens and other tourist places are cleaned properly and waste managed as per scientific management,” he said.
Asked if the tourist footfall has posed many challenges like traffic congestion in cities and tourist destinations besides waste management, the Secretary Tourism said that various development authorities are giving special focus to cleaning the trash left over by the tourists. “A proper waste disposal system is being followed and more people have been pressed into service to keep the tourist resorts clean. Guidelines have been displayed on signboards at various tourist destinations asking tourists not to litter and not to make the resort dirty,” he said.
About traffic congestion, officials told KNO that there has been a 100 per cent increase in vehicular traffic due to the huge tourist arrivals. “Srinagar is bearing the brunt of huge tourist influx vis a vis increase in the number of vehicles. Traffic department has been advised to deploy more manpower at crucial junctions to facilitate vehicles ferrying tourists,” Hafeez said—(KNO)