Srinagar- Skyrocketing airfares have forced many tourists to visit Kashmir by bus this summer.
Due to high demand, a return air ticket from Delhi to Srinagar these days can cost anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 40,000. This makes some holiday destinations abroad such as the UAE, Thailand and Malaysia look cheaper with return air ticket per person costing as low as Rs 18,000.
“We travelled to Kashmir by bus. We could have come by air but tickets were so costly. At such prices, we could go to Dubai as well,” Rajesh, a tourist from Gujarat, told PTI.
Varsha Mankwada also took a bus to Kashmir in view the expensive airfares.
“The air tickets were so expensive. To and fro fare was around Rs 25,000. So, we came through travel agency by bus. Comparatively it was reasonable,” she said.
Tushar Bhai, hailing from Gujarat, travelled to Srinagar by a flight from Mumbai. “I came here from Mumbai. We planned travel according to our budget but it has cost us dear. From Mumbai to Srinagar, it costs us Rs 16,000 per person,” he said.
“We came here to see this beautiful place but we feel it’s too expensive to travel to Kashmir. I think we may have got cheaper tickets if we were to travel somewhere else,” he added.
Sanjeev, also from Gujarat, had a similar story to tell.
“The ticket cost us Rs 16,000 and they (airline) even don’t offer anything complimentary…,” he said.
Aashish from Delhi said this fare hike may be due to the peak tourism season.
“We gave a thought to cancel this trip but we are newlyweds. I visited here 2018 in same season as well but that time I didn’t feel it was so expensive,” he added.
Nikhil said the cost of air tickets should be reduced so that more and more tourists can visit Kashmir.
Some of the tourists said they had booked cheap fares with Go First as early as January but its flights were cancelled after the private carrier filed for insolvency earlier this month.
Manzoor Ahmad Pakthoon, the owner of Silkroute Holidays, said the rise in airfares was badly affecting tourism.
“As far as airfares are concerned, it’s badly hitting the tourism sector. We are committed to the packages we have sold but we cannot commit on behalf of the airlines. Due to rising fares, many tourists are cancelling their bookings,” he said.
Manzoor Ahmad Wangnoo, the president of Nigeen Tourist Traders Association, said the high airfares were affecting the tourism fraternity here.
“We have seen businesses flourishing in the last two years. Hotels, guest houses, houseboats are full and shikara and ponywallas all were happy but unfortunately this airfare hike really affected us in last two months,” Wangnoo said.
He said middle-class families prefer to travel to the UAE when airfares to Kashmir shoot up.
“When a family of four or five people cannot afford, they prefer to go to Dubai and other places rather than visit to Kashmir.
“I personally suggest…the Civil Aviation Ministry to take this issue seriously and put some kind of a cap on air fares so that the middle-class tourists can come here,” he added.
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