Pune tourists may cancel vacation plans to Kashmir, fear tour operators in cityhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/pune-tourists-may-cancel-vacation-plans-to-kashmir-fear-tour-operators-in-city-5587640/

Pune tourists may cancel vacation plans to Kashmir, fear tour operators in city

Of the 1 crore domestic tourists who visit the state every year, nearly 20 lakh are estimated to be from Maharashtra — the highest number from any state.

Pune students pay tribute to the soldiers martyred in Pulwama attack on Thursday. (Express Photo)

Plans by Pune residents to travel to Jammu and Kashmir for a vacation may change in the wake of the terror attack in Pulwama on Thursday, say tour operators in the city.

At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed in the worst terror attack in the Valley, in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday.

Bahram P Zadeh, chairman of the Pune chapter of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), said nearly 80-90 per cent of the Kashmir tours booked by Pune residents for the upcoming tourist season, which begins in April, may be cancelled.

Of the 1 crore domestic tourists who visit the state every year, nearly 20 lakh are estimated to be from Maharashtra — the highest number from any state. In January this year, the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation had announced a special discount for tourists from Pune.

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The Jammu and Kashmir government’s tourism department had taken special initiatives to encourage and increase the flow of domestic and international tourists to the state.

Tourism is the major industry for Jammu and Kashmir and is a source of livelihood for many in the state.

Condemning the terror attack, Zadeh said it was too early to gauge the impact on tourism, but chances of a normal tourist season appeared to be dim. “After this terror attack, we expect large-scale cancellations,” he said.

The attack comes at a time when the Association had resolved to encourage more tourists to visit the valley. “Our last convention was held there and we had decided to ensure a renewed flow of tourists to the state,” he said.

Zadeh said the attack may have a long-term adverse effect and cause an overall dip in the number of tourists who visit the valley. “As tour operators, we will seriously find it difficult to sell Kashmir as a tourist destination in the days to come,” he said.

Wahid Malik, president of the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, appealed tourists from Pune not to cancel their upcoming tours. “We have received calls from tourists who have booked their trips and we have tried to assure them of their safety,” he said.