Security forces evacuate hotels with tourism boom in Srinagar

Dec 23 2012, 20:07 IST
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Betab valley (Reuters) Betab valley (Reuters)
SummaryOver 60 per cent of hotels occupied by security forces have been evacuated: Talat Parvez

As decline in militancy paved way for influx of tourists in Jammu and Kashmir over the past two decades, over 60 per cent hotels occupied by the security forces in Srinagar city have been evacuated.

Consequent upon the improving security scenario in the city and the huge rush of tourists this year, the government in consultation with various agencies evacuated these hotels and other buildings and relocated forces to other places, officials said.

"Over 60 per cent of hotels occupied by security forces have been evacuated. Almost 150 hotels and other buildings which were being held by security forces have been evacuated and there is less visibility of security forces now," Director Tourism, Kashmir, Talat Parvez told PTI.

The director said the evacuation cannot be done in one go and is being done in a phased manner and rest of tourism infrastructure would be evacuated by the start of next tourism season.

"The rest of hotels (occupied by security forces) are being evacuated in a phased manner. By next start of season, I believe, all the hotels will be free from all security occupation and they (forces) will be relocated to someplace else," Parvez said.

Majority of the hotels in Srinagar were occupied by various security agencies in the wake of militancy in the early 1990s.

The state government is reducing footprints of security forces in the city and as many as 44 bunkers have been removed from the city in last two years.

The state witnessed a huge rush of tourists this year. The officials estimate the figure to be around 12 lakh till November, which includes more than 35,000 foreign tourists.

Parvez said there is a tremendous pressure to improve the infrastructure and provide the best to tourists, who have been flocking to Kashmir in recent years.

"There has not been much improvement in tourism infrastructure in the last two decades of violence. Nothing new was created and whatever old infrastructure we had, got dilapidated. Tourist flow got almost doubled which meant more requirement and it was both ways having pressure on the infrastructure and we felt the need to have more infrastructure in place," he said.

The director said the department started the camping-site and guest-house scheme to immediately accommodate the large number of tourists.

"We have been very liberal in granting the incentives and asking people to convert their houses into guest-houses. We do not ask for many formalities and we allow them to conduct their business and ultimately, that will become one of the assets for us," he said.

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