Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir is a popular tourist destination
Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir is a popular tourist destination

Is it safe to travel to India amid Kashmir tension?

Pakistan airspace is currently closed to commercial flights

Wednesday 27 February 2019 14:52

Tensions have been escalating between India and Pakistan in the past few days over the disputed territory of Kashmir, following airstrikes by both countries.

Nine airports were shut in India earlier today but have since reopened, while Pakistani airspace is now closed to commercial flights, which is forcing international flights to re-route.

Is it safe to travel to India?

Generally yes, although the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in India”, following several high-profile incidents.

General advice for visiting the country states: “There may be an increased threat to places visited by British nationals such as religious sites, markets, festival venues and beaches.

“You should be vigilant at this time, monitor local media and take all precautions for your safety.”

Is it safe to travel to Kashmir?

The Kashmir region includes the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has a couple of popular tourist sites – including the Himalayan region of Ladakh, a backpacker spot.

However, most of the state is not safe to visit, according to foreign office guidance.

The FCO warns against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir (except within the city of Jammu, air travel to Jammu and within the region of Ladakh), as well as all travel to the areas bordering Pakistan.

Other popular tourist destinations, such as Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, also fall within the areas to which the FCO advises against all travel.

“All but essential travel” is advised to the city of Srinagar and between Jammu and Srinagar on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

The FCO has just updated its guidance to warn of “heightened tensions”, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.

“There may be disruption to air travel in Jammu and Kashmir and northern India at short notice,” it says.

“You should continue to exercise caution, monitor news reports and keep up to date with this travel advice and the advice of local authorities.”

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the FCO advises against travel to most parts of the country, and all travel to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas which borders India.

What should I do if I have booked a holiday to India?

Travellers booked to India who are concerned about going to an area of heightened tension will not be able to cancel their trips without a penalty.

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The FCO has not extended the area of India for which it advises against travel, which at the moment covers the area close to the Pakistani border, and most of Jammu and Kashmir.

Almost everywhere typically visited by tourists is regarded as having a tolerably low risk, therefore holiday firms are not obliged to provide refunds or alternative travel arrangements.

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