By Sohail Ahmed
Srinagar, April 16 : The Jammu and Kashmir' tourism and hospitality sectors are facing a dull season due to decline in the number of tourists this year as compared to the general boom witnessed in April.
The tourism and hospitality industry is the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir's economy.
Those associated with the industry opined that the tourist arrival in the valley has not picked up as it usually does by April.
The popular houseboats (Shikaras) which were usually booked in advance three or four years back by March, are today lying vacant with almost no bookings for this month.
"The work is quite less as compared to last year. Earlier, there used to be big crowd arriving here during this month. But it is not so any more. This time we have hardly seen one to two tourist vehicles coming here. Of course, the State Government says that tourists will come, but no work is going on," said Mohammed Dilshad, one eatery owner.
"Three to four years back, a lot of tourists were coming here but suddenly we do not know what has happened to them. Many of the tourists are misguided about Kashmir. Tourists coming here don't find any such thing here," said Mohammed Yaqoob, a houseboat owner.
People related to the tourism industry expected a surge in tourists' arrival this year, but as of now, their hopes have belied.
"A lot of tourists used to come here and liked the Kashmiri dresses. They used to ask me about our traditional dresses which have been in great demand. Moreover, our Pashmina shawls are particularly famous. But this year, no tourist has visited this place. We have been waiting for so long since we do not have any other work to do," said Abdul Rasheed, a handicraft and novelties dealer.
Many houseboats in Dal Lake are displaying "Vacant" boards for the places, which in the past used to be jam-packed.