KASHMIR NEWS TRUST #KNT
The Tourism Sector has been badly hit in Kashmir Valley due to no or below-average snow received this winter at tourist spots including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonamarg.
Till mid-January, no snowfall is expected in Valley.
Several tour operators from Kashmir confirmed that tourists have started calling off their trips to hill stations of Kashmir. “Majority of the tourists who have been calling off their trips are newly married couples and skiers,” Ajaz Ahmed one of the tour operators said.
Shahzad Rasool – the proprietor of Hotel ‘Village Walk’ in Sonamarg told the news agency Kashmir News Trust that his hotel is empty. “Not only my hotel, all hotels in Sonamarg are empty. It is just because of the lack of snowfall. Thajvas Glacier which ignited the hearts of tourists witnessed only 4-inch snowfall this season. Last year, Sonmarg witnessed over 7 feet of snowfall till mid-January,” he said adding that some tourists visit the destination during the day but don’t prefer night-stay.
Several photographs of tourist destinations including Gulmarg and Sonamarg have gone viral on social media showing snowless patches of these destinations.
The Weather Office has attributed low snowfall to the absence of Western Disturbances. An official said that there will be almost no major snowfall till mid-January.
Tourist Guide Mushtaq Ahmed Naik said that the lack of snowfall has hit locals badly. “Educated youth who had procured snow bikes and were earning a living are sitting idle. Hoteliers, shopkeepers, sledge workers are all disappointed,” he said adding that things may bounce back if there is snowfall.
One of the hoteliers in Gulmarg said that due to below-average snowfall, tourists are having second thoughts about their plans to visit the hill stations of Kashmir. “It’s very unfortunate and we hope things will improve and there is a heavy snowfall,” he said adding that there will be grave social and economic implications if it doesn’t snow.
A local Skier confirmed that some international skiers who were scheduled to visit Gulmarg for ski have canceled their bookings.
The lack of snow is likely to hit the water table as well in Kashmir Valley. [KNT]