People, guides aghast; seek necessary intervention
SRINAGAR, June 4: While Gulmarg is witnessing an unprecedented rush of tourists these days, getting the same-day Gondola ticket has become almost impossible for the locals as well as several tourists reaching the world-famous resort to enjoy the stay.
The Gondola tickets currently stand sold out for the next nearly 5 days, leaving the locals in the lurch who are returning from Gulmarg disheartened, without a Gondola ride.
“As of now, the tickets which are sold only through online mode, stand sold out till June 8 making it impossible for the locals as well as other tourists to get a ride,” said one of the locals who was in Gulmarg to enjoy the day with his family.
While the authorities are highlighting the tourist influx, it appears that the issues being faced by the locals, tourists as well as the registered tourist guides, are being outrightly ignored
The people as well as those who are associated with the tourism sector rue the official indifference towards the issue while stating it is hard for the locals as well as the tourists to get Gondola tickets the day they reach Gulmarg.
In this regard, the tourist guides also said that the online booking of the tickets as well as alleged “mismanagement” of matters at Gulmarg was taking a toll on the livelihood of the registered tourist guides at the tourist resort.
“The tourists hire the guides to make matters such as getting tickets and other logistics hassle-free, but when we are not even able to help them in getting the tickets because the same is sold out to the big travel companies in advance, why would they hire us,” said Javeed Ahmad, one of the registered tourist guides.
Tariq Ahmad Khan, who is the president of the Tourist Guide Association, Gulmarg said that the authorities cannot keep ticketing 100 percent online and that they need to consider the issues faced by the guides.
“Registered guides should get a reservation quota or they can keep the same day online option open for the people to get the ticket the day they reach Gulmarg; the big companies get the larger chunk of the tickets and we are left with nothing,” he said.
On top of it, the tickets are also sold at exorbitant prices while the official rate has been set as Rs 750. “There have been instances where the ticket have been sold at Rs 1200 by the agents who book the tickets for their clients; we have proofs of the tickets even sold at Rs 1900,” Khan said
The tourist guides said that the authorities have themselves paved a way for the black-marketing of the tickets and the hike in the prices.
Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez told Excelsior that due to the unprecedented rush at Gulmarg, the tickets are being booked well in advance by people. “However, if there is any other issue, the same will be looked into,” he said.
On the issue of black marketing and the uniformity in rates, he said that the online system was established to take care of the same and is helping a great deal. “There are clear cut directives issued to the concerned regarding the issue of black marketing,” he said.