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June 19, 2012

Lack of accommodation disappoints tourists in Kashmir

     Srinagar: A large number of tourists are complaining of a shortage of hotel accommodation in the Kashmir Valley , which they claim has resulted in hotel tariff skyrocketing. Tourists wanting some respite from the scorching heat, make a beeline for Kashmir to enjoy the pleasant weather. But, the poor availability of hotel accommodation has left them distressed. "The administration should construct more hotels as there is a huge influx of tourists in the valley. The tourists will be provided with better accommodation facilities if more hotels are built. The tourist will get this facility if the government pays attention to this problem," said Raj Kumar, a tourist. The state government’s Department of Tourism is making an effort to provide basic facilities for travellers. The Director of Tourism, Talat Parvez, urged the private sector to join hands with the public sector in constructing more hotels. "The current accommodation is not sufficient to cater to 50,000 plus tourists flow. We want that private entrepreneurs to step forward so that hotels can be constructed quickly as it takes time for the government to built it," said Parvez. The tourists urged the state government to construct new hotels and provide more houseboats to boost tourism in the valley. Kashmir was once dubbed the Switzerland of the East. It was once a Mecca for climbers, skiers, honeymooners and filmmakers drawn to the state's soaring peaks, fruit orchards and timber houseboats bobbing on the Dal Lake in Srinagar . Planeloads of India 's upwardly mobile middle classes have visited the picture postcard-perfect Kashmir Valley this summer, making it the busiest tourist season since the armed revolt began in 1989. Hotels and the famed houseboats on the mirror-calm Dal Lake framed by snow-capped mountains are booked for weeks even though new ones such as the Taj chain's luxurious Vivanta have opened. The streets are blocked with traffic, the shops are filled with customers bargaining for everything from carpets to walnuts, and you could for a moment think you are in an Indian city with its babel of languages from Bengali to Gujarati rather than a disputed region at the heart of 60 years of unremitting hostility between India and Pakistan . It is said that 60 percent of Kashmiris are dependent on tourism. Tourism returned in force to Kashmir in 2005 as violence fell after India and Pakistan began a peace process. Some 600,000 people visited the scenic region, most of them Indians.
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