Srinagar, Feb 11 (PTI) Authorities in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir have ordered cancellation of hotel bookings in the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg to accommodate participants of Khelo India National Winter Games, officials said on Thursday.
The order issued by the additional deputy commissioner, Baramulla, drew sharp reaction from the National Conference (NC) which termed it as “mindless application of government writ'.
The week-long games are scheduled to start from February 25.
The authorities have asked hoteliers to accommodate athletes and officials and cancel pre-bookings of tourists for the February 25-March 3 period.
In a letter to the sub-divisional magistrate, Gulmarg, the additional deputy commissioner asked him to ensure that boarding and lodging facilities are provided to the athletes and officials during the event.
'Further, all pre-bookings, if any, on this account may be cancelled,” the letter read.
A copy of the letter has also been sent to president of Hoteliers Club Gulmarg chapter, Mukhtar Ahmad Shah.
Shah said while the order would put the hoteliers and tourists to some inconvenience, it was for the greater good of tourism as whole.
“Hosting the games is an honour for us. This is very good for the promotion of tourism and the destination. Yes, there would be some inconvenience, but there is no need to make an issue out of it. It is for the greater good,” Shah said.
He said tourists with confirmed bookings will be given other options to make their visit comfortable.
“We have started the process of reaching out to tourists with various options. They can have night stays at other locations, have day visits to Gulmarg and we are willing to provide them complimentary rooms at other locations and free taxi rides as well,” he said.
However, another hotelier, who did not wish to be identified, said they had no choice but to obey the order.
“We have to keep the rooms available for this period. There is no other option for us, in fact the administration is also helpless,” he said.
He said there would not have been any problem if the organisers would have booked the rooms in advance.
“Also, almost all hotels have several rooms lying defunct because renovations are not allowed. Had that been the case, the rooms would have been available,” he said.
Meanwhile, NC vice president Omar Abdullah criticised the order.
“The games are a welcome addition to our calendar but its mindless application of government writ when the games become a reason to cancel hotel bookings & inconvenience tourists who have booked flights & made their plans well in advance,” he tweeted.
Another NC leader Tanvir Sadiq wondered what sort of tourism policy was it to force cancellation of hotel bookings.
'Khelo India games are all well & good but why at the cost of our regular tourists? What sort of tourism promotion policy is this where the government forces bookings to be cancelled? Spare a thought for those people who booked rooms weeks ago only to be told they aren't welcome,” Sadiq said in a tweet. PTI SSB RHL