J&K govt. resolves row over hosting Khelo India games


The J&K administration on Friday said it is “ready to host” the mega Khelo India National Winter Games at Kashmir’s ski-resort Gulmarg. However, the authorities withdrew an earlier order asking hoteliers to cancel pre-bookings of tourists for accommodating for the visiting players.

Facing an outcry from locals and the political parties over the cancellation order, Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir headed by G.N. Ittoo held consultations with stakeholders, including the Baramulla administration, the J&K Sports Council and the Hoteliers Club-Gulmarg on Friday.

“A mutually agreed formula has been arrived at to ensure that the requisite accommodation is made available for the Khelo India participants and others without disturbing the tourists’ facilities,” officials said.

“The Tourism Department is committed to ensuring that tourists are provided hassle free facilities and also best hospitality,” an official spokesman said.

The Baramulla administration, under which Gulmarg falls, had directed the hoteliers to cancel the prior bookings of tourists, as the resort faced accommodation issues thanks to growing tourist footfalls.

“We have not issued any new order but the earlier order has been cancelled,” an official in Baramulla said.

The Khelo India National Winter Games are starting from February 26 to March 2 at Gulmarg.

The J&K Hoteliers Club and the United Tourism Forum, bodies associated with tourism, also clarified that there were adequate arrangements for the athletes and officials participating in the games.

“The event is being held at Gulmarg to promote tourism. It’s our responsibility to make the event a success,” Mushtaq Chaya, chairman of the hoteliers club, said.

Mukhtar Shah, president of the Gulmarg Hoteliers Club, said, “As far as the order is concerned, the hoteliers know how to accommodate the guests, officials or athletes. We have already reserved the rooms for athletes and officials. Nobody has asked us to cancel the pre-bookings,” Mr. Shah said.

Earlier, former chief minister Omar Abdullah had criticised the government’s move to cancel the pre-bookings.

“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 and inconvenience tourists who have booked flights and made their plans well in advance,” he said.

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