The government has announced the opening of gardens and parks in Jammu and Kashmir as unlock 2.0 takes centre stage. The announcement comes amid growing concern over the increasing number of covid-19 cases as well as deaths due to it in the J&K.
While case tally inches closer to 9000 in Jammu and Kashmir, the fatality count nears 150 mark, with most deaths recorded in the last few weeks only and almost fifty among them in the last ten days.
The opening of parks and the gardens is an indication towards revival of the tourism, especially while heatwave sweeps neighboring states.
The tourism industry contributes about ten to fifteen percent to the J&K’s GDP but has been gasping for fresh air for the last several years.
The events of the past including those before and in the aftermath of August 5 brought gloom to the various players including tour operators. There were massive cancellations of bookings for summer tourism last year. Hopes of revival, even bare minimum were dashed by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic which laid its petrifying fingers on the industry. It led to a situation where there were no sightseers for Asia’s largest tulip garden in Srinagar. Despite in full bloom, with over 1.3 million bulbs turned towards the sun, there were no tourists to witness the breathtaking sight with overlook banks of the Dal Lake and mesmerism of Zabarwan Mountains. Last year, around 2,60,000 people visited the garden in a two-month period and this year higher numbers were expected which would have set the tone for months to come.
Given the odds faced by it including negative portrayals by the many media houses in India which causes a tremendous impact on domestic tourists, the tourism industry has been surviving only for the determination of those associated with the sector. True, the covid-19 pandemic has led to the situation when the travel and hospitality industry across the globe seems to have receded into the background. The fact also remains that Jammu and Kashmir tourism has descended into the red for events beyond the control of the players associated with it. It is time for the local administration as well as the central government to take some major steps to rescue the sector. A package that will keep the industry afloat should be announced without delay and all players should be brought under the purview. It is important that no one in the chain should be left untouched.