The tension at the border with Pakistan has hit tourism in Amritsar.
The city, home to the Golden Temple — the holiest shrine of the Sikhs — and tourist attractions such as the Wagah-Attari joint checkpost and Jallianwala Bagh, has seen a dip in tourist arrivals since last week.
October began on an anxious note, with hotels seeing 10% cancellation after tension on the border escalated post Thursday’s surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “About 10% customers have cancelled bookings in the past few days in our hotel. There have been cancellations by non-resident Indians (NRIs) and foreigners in prominent hotels of the town too,” said Inderbir Singh Nijjar, the owner of Hotel Alstonia. Sukhdeep Singh, who runs a guest house near the Golden Temple, said tourists from other states, particularly the south, visit Amritsar and then head for destinations in Jammu and Kashmir.
“But the tension along the Punjab border and the volatile situation in Jammu and Kashmir since July has discouraged many from planning tours to these parts,” he said.
The Golden Temple is also less crowded these days. “Punjabis are courageous. They don’t fear war so their arrival is almost normal,” said shrine manager Sulakhan Singh. “However, there are fewer tourists from abroad and other states,” he added.
Taxi drivers are also a worried lot. “For the past five days, I’ve been waiting for customers. The Border Security Force (BSF) has barred visitors from the retreat ceremony at Wagah. Tourists still visit Golden Temple but are hesitant to go to Wagah. Youngsters are adventurous but families are not keen,” said Sarbjit Singh, a taxi driver.
Jatinder Singh, an autorickshaw driver outside the railway station, said the number of visitors has fallen by about 25%.
Some shopkeepers, however, said the situation was not as bad as was being portrayed by the electronic media.