Srinagar, July 7: Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken a bold decision by throwing open the Union Territory for the tourism in a phased manner. It can help in reviving the ailing economy of the Valley but people will have to extra take precautions as COVID-19 curve has not flattened yet.
Kashmir’s tourism industry has been dire straits since August 5, 2019, when Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories. Soon after J&K’s reorganization authorities imposed strict restrictions. These were followed by the shutdown calls and the harsh winter season.
As the economic activities were about to begin in March, the COVID-19 arrived and the lockdown was announced. At present most of the hotels and restaurants in Kashmir are closed. Travel agencies have almost winded up their businesses and houseboats are empty. There is zero occupancy everywhere.
It’s in place to mention here that Goa and Himachal Pradesh have opened up for tourism, but the governments in both these States have devised SOPs for the visitors and the people catering to them.
An analyst while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “The number of COVID cases in Jammu and Kashmir are nearing 9000 mark and till date more than 140 persons have died due to this deadly infection. If the tourists start thronging Kashmir due to the extreme heat wave conditions prevailing in other parts of the country, the administration will have to take extra precautions to keep the tourists and the locals safe.”
Pertinently, Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu, had chaired a meeting of the Administrative Secretaries in Srinagar on Monday and he had directed the officials to open up J&K for tourism. Soon after the meeting the government spokesman Rohit Kansal had tweeted that the process to throw J&K UT open for tourists will start soon.
An observer said, “Tourism has remained the backbone of Kashmir’s economy for the past many decades but the people associated with this trade have been at the receiving end for one or other reason for the past many decades now.”
He said, “Despite facing all the odds the tourism players have tried their best to keep this sector alive. But the past eleven months have tested their patience. It appears that tourist footfall will not pick up till the COVID-19 vaccine appears and people start believing that they are safe. We have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”