Web Stories Friday, February 23

SRINAGAR, India : A lack of snowfall has led to empty ski resorts and holiday cancellations in the Indian Himalayas, with scientists linking the “unusual” winter to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

The dry spell in Kashmir has pushed skiers to skip the popular resort of Gulmarg, one of the highest in the world, and left hotels in the scenic region waiting for fresh falls to draw tourists to the panoramic views of snow-capped peaks.

Scientists said that this winter’s conditions in northern India have not been seen for about a decade, marked by the absence of snowfall in the mountains and biting cold made worse by thick fog in the plains.

“Fifty per cent of the season is already gone,” said Farhat Naik, 35, a Gulmarg snowboard instructor, ruing at the sight of dry, barren land that would normally be covered in a knee-deep layer of snow.

“We are now hoping for snowfall in February first week,” he said, adding that all his European and American clients have cancelled their trips due to a lack of snow – a blow to the tourism and agriculture focused economy of the region.

Travel industry executives in the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand also complained of cancellations.

Bookings have dropped to 20 per cent for Blue Poppy Resort in the ski resort of Auli, in Uttarakhand, its owner Kushaal Sangwan said. “Our cancellations have jumped and people cancel (just) days before the booking if there is no snow.”

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