SRINAGAR – The airfare from Srinagar to other parts of the country has witnessed increase by many folds, badly affecting travel plans of many Kashmiris, who intended to visit outside the valley during winter months.
Meanwhile, local travel agents have expressed concern over gag on internet from last 85 days in the valley, alleging that they had to shift their offices to outside the state to remain operational.
Interestingly, the fare of tickets for flights coming into Srinagar International Airport from other parts of the country remained at considerable rates though it has also increased from last 10 to 15 days.
“From last 10 to 15 days air tickets for flights coming into Srinagar have witnessed an increased of many folds. A ticket which was selling at Rs 2,000 to 2,500 a month back, is being sold at Rs 8000 to Rs 11000,” Tawseef Ahmad, a travel agent said.
Ahmad said that the rates of tickets are regulated by Airlines and the moment they observe increase of demand in a particular area, they hike the price. “As the demand of tickets for flights going out of Srinagar has increased due to upcoming winter seasons and unrest in the valley, the airlines have increased the fare on Srinagar-Delhi, Srinagar-Mumbai and other routes originating from the summer capital,” he added.
The travel agent also expressed concern over continuous gag on internet services, including broadband, and demanded that the service be restored immediately so that they can work properly. “I had to send half of my staff members to outside the state to make the office operational. I pay for their accommodation, food and other expenses whereas the profits my agency makes is the same as it did before August 5, even less than that,” he said.
Answering a question whether the counters set up by authorities at Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) were any help to them, he alleged the arrangements were made only for the sake of advertisement. “There are around 500 tour and travel operators registered with the tourism department and just five counters were established. A chit system was introduced and the names of travel agencies, who were allowed to put up their stalls for a week, were picked by lucky draw,” he said.
He said once the agency completes one week, it has to wait for all 500 travel agencies to get a turn to set up a counter at the facility. “How does the government think that we can work such a way and bear the expenses of our employees and other things,” he added.
The locals have also expressed concerns over the exponential hike in the airfare. “I was planning to go to Hyderabad via Delhi, but I have dropped the plan as the rates are out of my budget. When I checked a flight to Hyderabad in the first week of October, it was costing my around Rs 7000. But now, flight to Delhi is Rs 11000 and from there to Hyderabad is Rs 4000. So for my travel to Hyderabad city I will have to pay Rs 15000 from one side,” Nazir Ahmad Khan, a resident of Shaltang in city outskirts told UNI.