With the ongoing crisis in a private airline company (Go First) and also the frequent closure of the Srinagar-Leh highway, Ladakh has reported massive booking cancellation of hotels and other allied services associated with tourism. Due to the Go First crisis, the ticket prices of other airlines are skyrocketing, say hoteliers.
May, June and July comprise the peak season for tourism in the cold desert region. While many international tourists did not visit Ladakh after 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions, the UT witnessed over five lakh tourists, mostly domestic ones, last year. There are over 17,000 beds in hotels, guest houses and homestays in Leh district where majority of tourists visit. Frequent avalanches and landslides on the Srinagar-Leh highway have also impacted tourism in both Kargil and Leh districts.
PT Kunzang, chairman of the Ladakh Tourist Trade Alliance, an apex body of hotel, restaurant, taxi and other associations, said there had been 45%-50% booking cancellation since May 3. “Those associated with the tourism industry had come out of their financial depression only last year after two years of restrictions due to lockdown. They are again struggling due to the crisis involving Go First due to which all eight flights of the company that shuttled between Leh and Delhi as well as Mumbai have been cancelled,” he said.
Soon after the Go First crisis, the cost of tickets of other airlines to the UT skyrocketed from all the cities.
Hotel and taxi owners have also submitted a memorandum to Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, urging him to talk to the Minister for Civil Aviation to allow other flights in slot of Go First.
Skarma Tsering Dehlex, president of the All Ladakh Hotel & Guest House Association, said 5.30 lakh tourists visited Leh last year. “This year, only over 35,000 tourists have visited so far which is very less. Even if the government is able to allow regular traffic on highways, we expect the number to touch 2.50 lakh by the end of season,” he said.
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“The ticket cost has reached anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 28,000 which is not affordable for most of the tourists. The uncertainty among tourists is the main reason why they are avoiding Ladakh this year,” said Dehlex.