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Tourism to J&K suffers, agencies cancel trek plans to Valley

In accordance with the security advisory, several travel agencies and trek organisers around the country took immediate steps to ensure the safety of tourists.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: October 28, 2019 12:51:44 pm
Tourism to J&K suffers, agencies cancel trek plans to Valley Speaking to The Indian Express, Explorer Trek and Tours, Pune, said, “We had our last tour to the region of Kashmir, the Great Lake, in the last week of July…” (Express Photo: Shuaib Masoodi/File)

After 83 days of being locked down, Jammu and Kashmir withdrew the security advisory by the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir, dated August 2, thereby opening the gates of the valley. However, tourism for the state took a back seat, with mid-May to September being the peak season.

In accordance with the security advisory, several travel agencies and trek organisers around the country took immediate steps to ensure the safety of tourists. This included transferring the trekkers who are part of ongoing trips to safer locations, while providing participants for scheduled trek expeditions with the alternatives of refund, redeemable coupons or treks rerouted to the states of Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Explorer Trek and Tours, Pune, said, “We had our last tour to the region of Kashmir, the Great Lake in the last week of July…That was the last trip before the season to visit the area ends. As for planning treks for the upcoming year, we are quite unsure of how the situation in the region will unfold. Hence, we are not planning any treks in the valley…”

“We cancelled all trips,” said Pooja from Trek the Himalayas, Rishikesh. “People who booked trips in Jammu and Kashmir were offered alternative trips to other hill stations or a redeemable voucher for the same trip next year, only if the situation is better.”

Rakesh, also from Trek the Himalayas, said that planning for the treks begins two months prior. This includes assembling of trek gear, food and water supplies, as well as coordinating with local porters and trek guides. “Generally, to maintain good relations with locals, we make an advanced payment… With the sudden decision by the government and the total cut off of communication, we were unable to coordinate with anyone there. Our main priority was to ensure the trekkers reached safer lands. We also had to bear the loss of refunds that ninety five per cent of our trekkers claimed. Our gear and supplies alone are worth Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh… We are hopeful for a better situation once things simmer down,” he said.

Oishik Soni of TrekMunk, Dehradun said, “With trips and treks to Kashmir coming to a halt, we offered a refund between four per cent and ten per cent on the package. As for Leh and Ladakh, we had our last trip to Stok Kangri on August 31.”

He added that on an average, the expenditure per patch of sixteen individuals cost the agency Rs 21.6 lakh. This included food and water supplies, trek gear, trek guides’ services and local transport. “We had to act on the spot… till now, we have no correct estimate of how much loss we had to bear. In a rough estimate, we had four to six treks scheduled, each roughly causing us a loss of Rs 65,000…” He also said that TrekMunk also cancelled five treks to Harmukh range in Ganderbal district, scheduled between October and November.

Bikat Adventures (Delhi), Snow Leopard Adventures (Gurugram) and India Hikes (Bengaluru) also said their treks and trips to the region had been deemed cancelled, and that they instead offered treks in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

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