Tourism, which contributes about 7% of the GDP of Jammu and Kashmir continues to be in bad shape, notwithstanding some arrivals on Christmas and New Year’s eve recently. While the full potential of tourism has never been utilized, the sector has remained in the gloom recently, a period described by some as the darkest period ever since August 5, 2019. The tourist fled Kashmir two days earlier than the centre effectively annulled Article 370. The government pressed buses from across the Valley and rushed them to Srinagar airport and bus terminals to facilitate the exit. Within two days, Kashmir was empty of all the sightseers from outside. It inflicted a crippling blow to J&K’s tourism industry.
As per a report, Kashmir has a total of 40,753 hotel rooms in around 1,500 hotels. The occupancy has been around 1% or less in the last one year.
From an income of Rs 6.69 crore from tourism in 2018, revenue plummeted to just around Rs 45 lakh in the past two years, as per the report.
The COVID-19 pandemic only prolonged the grim period, witnessing, as per tourism players, highest ever job losses of around 75,000 in the sector.
The international traveler is unlikely to be as frequent as it used in the pre-covid-19 era and sightseers from across the country can visit Kashmir. The upcoming season could prove to be a bumper one provided all stakeholders work in unison to create an atmosphere conducive for it. The tourism department has been holding various shows despite covid-19 pandemic and such efforts need to be continued.
Kashmir has historically been an attraction for anyone who wants to relax, and enjoy. In past, the stakeholders have not been able to promote the Kashmir Valley, its unique weather, mountain peaks, water bodies, vast fields and orchids, archeological sites, and cultural signposts. The tourists are supremely conscious of the comfort of stay, and ease of application. The infrastructure has to match the global levels even as it cannot be at the expense of nature itself which is the prime attraction for tourism. The ethics of interaction, and transaction, also need focus. The ethics and atmosphere of tourism need an overhaul and every stakeholder has to work towards it achieving the desired results.