The Times of India (Pune)

Kashmir goes off the vacation radar, travellers head to other holiday spots

PUNE: With the situation in Kashmir uncertain, holiday-goers are increasingly looking at other destinations. Travel companies said the shift away from Kashmir will continue for the moment, while holiday hotspots like Leh, Ladakh, and Nubra Valley stand to gain in the coming summer holiday season.

“We expect people to switch to destinations that share the same topography and receive a fair bit of snowfall, such as Manali, Rohtang Pass in the Himalayas, and Katao and Zero Point in Sikkim. Those opting for hill stations will also travel to Nainital, Rishikesh, Dalhousie, and Dharamsala. All these places can expect a 20% increase in tourists,” Karan Anand, head (relationships), Cox & Kings, said. “Due to the turmoil in Kashmir, people will avoid travelling there and instead, look at other hill stations in Himachal, the northeast, et al. We have already begun receiving queries and advise travellers to book early for the best deals,” Sharat Dhall, CEO (B2C), Yatra.com, told TOI.

Neelu Singh, CEO and director, Ezeego1, said many are also heading outside India. “Bhutan and Nepal are also gaining more tourists. A good number of tourists are also travelling to cooler places in south India, like Coorg, Munnar, and Ooty,” Singh said.

“Hill stations in south India, like Munnar, Kodaikanal, Ponmudi, Idukki and Araku Valley, are also gaining momentum,” Daniel D’souza, president and country head (leisure), SOTC Travel, said.

Heena J Akhtar, co-founder, TripXOXO, said, “Travellers are discovering other destinations and activities, such as rafting and tea estate tours in Darjeeling, trekking in Mount Abu, biking expeditions and village experiences in Sikkim and jungle safaris in Uttarakhand.”