By Mubashir A Wani
Srinagar- Several tourism stakeholders have expressed concern over the soaring air prices which they say have dampened the tourist inflow with the arrival of the peak season.
The tourism stakeholders said they are facing a massive decline and cancellations of fresh bookings.
Many tourists aspiring to visit the valley have cancelled their plans due to skyrocketing airfares, said Nisar Shah, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance. “None of their fresh queries are maturing and all our potential clients are turning down the travel programme due to skyrocketing airfares,” he said.
A group of eight people from Mumbai had planned a visit to Kashmir with my agency but due to the “extremely high price” of air tickets, they changed the destination. The air tickets for each individual cost them around Rs 40,000 for the two-way trip, so they dropped the plan, he said.
Shah said the halting of operations by Go First airlines has also added to their woes. Those who had booked tickets in advance are yet to get alternatives while the air prices are soaring with every passing day, he said.
Earlier in the week, Go First airlines in a tweet informed that their flight operations will remain cancelled till May 19, 2023, citing operational reasons.
Following this, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) directed the cash-strapped airline Go First to stop the sale of tickets with immediate effect, asking the airline to issue refunds to passengers against cancelled flights.
In a tweet Go First airline said, “Due to operational reasons, Go First flights until 19th May 2023 are cancelled. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and request customers to visit https://bit.ly/42ab9la for more info. For any queries or concerns, please feel free to contact us.”
Attributing the decline in fresh tourist booking to “soaring” airfares, the Chairman of the Kashmir Houseboats Owners Association—KHOA, Manzoor Pakthoon said that despite already existing issues with tourist bookings, they are now witnessing a huge decline in fresh bookings. He said that aspiring visitors find Dubai or other destinations economical as compared to the Kashmir Valley.
The tourism stakeholders said they have been demanding a cap on airfares for a long time now. Despite our pleas and repeated representations on the issue, nothing positive has happened to address our concern, he said.
Meanwhile, many netizens on social media highlighted the issue of skyrocketing prices of air tickets.
It is pertinent to mention that a parliamentary standing committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture in 2021 in its report stated that the airfares to J&K during peak season go equivalent to those on foreign destinations as a result of which people prefer visiting foreign countries. (KNO)
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