BR News Desk
Srinagar: Within a period of three months, airline companies made second steep hike in airfare, which travel agents fear could hamper the flow of tourists to Kashmir in ongoing Spring season.
Kashmir, currently is witnessing a massive rush of tourists particularly from Maharashtra and Gujarat following which the hotels and houseboats are booked till the month of April.
For the last one week, the airfare from various destination to Kashmir has been increasing and has now hiked by more than 75 per cent.
A cursory look at the airfare chart by portals including MakeMy Trip and EaseMyTrip shows that the tariff from the nearest destination New Delhi to Kashmir for the next two weeks has gone up to Rs 14,000.
Barely one or two weeks before, the airfare from the same destination to the valley was just Rs 5000-5500 per passenger. The return ticket from Kashmir to Delhi has also witnessed a hike of nearly 35 per cent and sells at Rs 83,00 per person.
From Gujarat, where from Kashmir receives tourists in good proportion currently, the airfare ranges from Rs 18,000 to 12,000 for the next one and half month. The return ticket to Surat airport sells at the same price.
The airfare from Maharashtra to Srinagar for the next one and half month sells at Rs 13,000 per passenger, which is a hike of more than 50 per cent.
Currently on an average 12000 passenger travel to and fro in 68 flights at Srinagar airport. It is almost 3000 more passengers compared to the peak winter months – January and February when Kashmir received 2.5 lakh tourists.
Travel agents fear that the current hike in the airfare could affect the tourist flow in Spring season. They said that they have put a demand of regulating airfare to the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
“We are getting calls from our clients that the airfare to Srinagar airport is much higher than other destinations. It disturbs our packages and impacts the entire hospitality sector. We have put a demand of regulating airfare and tariff of hospitality sector in general here to the government earlier,” said Manzoor Ahmad Pakhtoon, a travel agent and chairman Kashmir houseboat owners’ association.
He said the government should add to the over flights to put a cap on the airfare. “Toruists who visist via flights comprise a huge proportion of our total arrivals. A package to South-east Asia is much cheaper than Kashmir because of the airfare hike,” Pakhtoon said.
Meanwhile official sources said that the airfare hike has been deliberated and more flights will be added to cater to the rush of tourists. “The basic reason behind the airfare hike is the enormous rush of tourists to Kashmir. More flights are expected to be added for Srinagar airport in coming weeks,” they said.