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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Murree dwellers distance themselves from reports of exploitative hoteliers

Many call for boycotting Murree after hotel owners raised prices in middle of storm

Murree dwellers have defended themselves with accounts of helping stranded tourists after a barrage of people called for boycotting Murree after hoteliers reportedly hiked prices, which left passengers to ride out the snowstorm in their cars on Saturday.

A deadly snowstorm ravaged Murree and Galiyat with about four feet of snow, with several tourists caught in heavy traffic caused by the inclement weather conditions and high influx of tourists in the area. At least 22 people died, many of whom were poisoned by carbon monoxide gas when they sat in their cars awaiting the roads to get cleared.

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Several reports circulated that hotel operators in Murree allegedly jacked up prices of their rooms, which had guests turning away to rough it out in their vehicles in the traffic jam. These reports raised a call from netizens to avoid tourism in Murree.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek Secretary General Khurram Nawaz Gandapur followed along the call to boycott and said that no one should head towards the hill station for one season, until hotel operators submitted acceptable price listings to the Murree administration.

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Journalist Sana Jamal said that people “always complained but never boycott”, adding that Murree was expensive and there was nothing noteworthy there to go for.

Another journalist Ihtisham ul Haq pointed out that Murree’s businessmen were ruthless and exploited desperate people in the middle of a calamity. He added that the government must penalize the businessmen, and everyone should boycott Murree.

As the fury directed towards Murree intensified, several dwellers took to Twitter to defend themselves, many narrating how they or those they knew helped tourists during crisis.

A local said that he was tired of people blaming Murree dwellers as the locals provided assistance, including shelter, wherever possible, asserting that it was locals who found the demised tourists and urged authorities to take note. He added that the events unfolded on a main road not far from a rescue centre to strengthen his point that the crisis was just mismanagement as no one reached the site in time.

Another user pointed out that his office landlord in Islamabad was from Murree and upon hearing about the devastation in his hometown, he ordered people from his village to knock down the entrance to his house so abandoned tourists could find shelter.

Investigative journalist Waseem Abbasi too pointed out that locals helped those stuck on the roads. He posted a video of a locals who carried relief packages to the people in Kuldana road, adding that those who abused Murree should see the helpful side of its residents too.


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