Hospitality Tourism in Kashmir Can Make It A Paradise Again!

Only when the situation stabilized to some extends and the ski season began did we see a small rise in tourist flow, which was 30% of the traffic we had in the previous year.

Hospitality Tourism in Kashmir Can Make It A Paradise Again!
Hospitality Tourism in Kashmir Can Make It A Paradise Again!

Tourism, which accounted for 7% of the states GDP in 2014 according to Government figures, plays a crucial role in the states development, on books the number might seem limited but we must understand that the sector is largely unorganized; seasonal therefore the accuracy of these figures is questionable.

As per many individual studies conducted by various organizations and trade bodies related to the tourism, figures as high as 60% of GDP contribution (directly and indirectly) is credited to the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir. This Human Resource intensive industry is one of the states highest contributors to Job sector growth second to only government jobs offering and agriculture. This can help understand the importance of tourism to the state and its people.

Today the Kashmir hospitality lies at crucial juncture, where the investment in this sector has grown many folds at every level, whether it is your common shikara wala, pony wala, driver, daba owner, shopkeeper, travel agent, hotel owner or the common man working in the hotel; every one is investing a lot into this industry, in-fact the investment into this sector is more than ever therefore the stakes of a common Kashmiri higher than ever before.

Going by some statistical data the tourism industry saw a steep dip in the inflow of tourism by 95% percent starting July 2016 to December 2016.This saw a shut down of many prominent hotels in all categories for the period. Only when the situation stabilized to some extends and the ski season began did we see a small rise in tourist flow, which was 30% of the traffic we had in the previous year.

Our example is one of the best examples to understand how Kashmir’s hospitality industry in changing for the good and how the professionalism and increased investments are contributing immensely to the state and the sector.

In the year 2007 on the behest of the state government the founding member of Royal Khazir Hotels And Resorts Mr. Nazir Zaroo a largely successful entrepreneur, some one who had spear headed the growth of Kashmiri Handicraft sector in India & Middle east decided on laying the foundation for what is now known as Royal Khazir Boutique, on land which was originally procured for Handicraft Factory unit near the Shalimaar Garden in Srinagar. During this while more land was procured on prestigious Gupkar Road in Srinagar again for a different purpose, where now lies Kashmir’s best Mid-Segment hotel RK Sarovar Portico.

Royal Khazir Boutique, which had started operation in March of year 2011, did not receive any tourist flow until mid May, this is the time when Saddam Zaroo current managing director for Royal Khazir Hotels and resorts was handed the management of the hotel, 2011 ended up being one of the most successful year in the hotels history, there was no turning back since. This is also the time when Saddam Zaroo under the guidance and training of Nazir Zaroo started taking keen interest in the conceptualization and construction of RK Sarovar portico then known as the City Forest Resort. With strong educational background from one of the best B schools in India and having gained some important experience from personal training by Mr.Anil Madhok the founder of Sarovar group during his college years, Saddam changed the concept from a guesthouse to the first proper mid-segment hotel of the valley. In the year 2012 riding on the success of Royal Khazir boutique and having a better than expectation pre-opening run under the original brand City Forest, Saddam was named the managing director. He later on convinced Nazir Zaroo and the organization of bringing in a Management company to help improve the property and bring professionalism into the hospitality industry thus signing Sarovar Hotels and Resorts becoming one of the first in the valley to sign a management company.

With Sarovar coming in a lot of improvements were proposed to the hotel, this required a lot more investment in the property than initially done, the original model of investment was to move capital from the prime business of Handicraft and do a part investment from funds borrowed from financial institutions. Saddam followed the same until the property was up and running, however now the aim shifted to minimum dependence on financial institution and finance from other businesses, property up gradation plan was divided into a five year plan where capital liabilities, interest factor, capital investment, up gradation and day to day running cost were given equal priorities. This financial model may sound ideal, slightly difficult but achievable however what makes it even more difficult to follow was that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not only governed by market factors but is also directly and strongly affected by its political scenario which makes us contently modify the plans according to tourist inflow making Kashmir one of the hardest places to work in however we can boast of staying operational since our inception through thick and thin. This includes the devastating floods of September 2014 and recent turmoil of 2016 where most properties in Kashmir shut down for months together.

Over the years RK Sarovar Portico has met the customer demand by understanding the changing traveller and the travel trends. Sarovar Srinagar over the years has invested further on technology, featuring one of the finest Banqueting facilities in the valley attracting MICE, improved rooms by introducing our premiere categories featuring world class room décor and amenities, being a well equip business hotel with features such as free wifi, conferencing rooms, express laundry or 24 hours dining which may sound basic but are lacking in the valley, state of the art engineering meeting every safety standard a premium hotel should feature and most of all now introducing a Spa/ Turkish hamam facility making RK Sarovar Portico, Srinagar’s only Spa Resort.

RK with Sarovar has also invested on our Human Resource training and grooming future leaders, featuring 99% local employment.

RK Sarovar has always believed in being pro active in its approach, the Managing director and the team believes in understanding the guest needs and accordingly improves our approach and infrastructure. We believe in providing world-class features and facilities to our customers thus making RK Sarovar Portico a destination in itself, this make our marketing strategy naturally Guest based thus running social media campaigns or any form of campaigning around the Guest and property features.

Royal Khazir Hotels and Resorts under Saddam Zaroo continue making investments in the hospitality sector within and outside the valley with an aim to bring the best of global hospitality to Kashmir and its people. Saddam Zaroo is also trying to improve Kashmiri Handicraft sector within and outside the state with the help of his parent company Khazir Sons.

Saddam has and is playing an active role in Kashmir Hospitality industry, he is ex-treasurer for Kashmir Hotel and Restaurants Owners Federation, at the age 27 he is currently the youngest Vice Chair Chairman CII Jammu & Kashmir Chapter. He also features on two prestigious government bodies i.e Board of Director for Kashmir Handicraft Quality Control Council and Boad of Governors for Sher-I-Kashmir international conference Centre (SKICC).

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