Omicron Shadow On Tourism  

Tourism sector is a major engine of economic growth of Jammu & Kashmir. It contributes about 7% of the GDP of Jammu and Kashmir.
Of late, the tourism industry in the country including J&K has seen a bit of revival after being battered by the covid’s first and 2nd waves. However, there is worry setting in as alarm bells are ringing across the world over Omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus. Omicron, first detected in South Africa, has caused several nations to impose restrictions on flights from that country and its neighbours, and the World Health Organisation has labelled it a ‘variant of concern’.
There are rightly calls from officials regarding the need to be vigilant and proactive, and J&K must be rigorous in monitoring inbound travellers.  A key learning from coronavirus experience is that life just cannot be brought to a standstill. It is well known how there was economic downturn, job losses and a sharp rise in poverty due to lockdown. The pandemic has endangered lives and livelihoods and there is a need to strike a balance between health security and financial security. On their part, the people must adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols.
Kashmir has historically been an attraction for anyone who wants to relax, and enjoy. In the 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. However, to at least see tourism back on rails in Jammu and Kashmir, both the local and central governments need to ensure that omicron does not cast its shadow on the industry. Every effort must be taken to keep it at bay. Else consequences could be dangerous.  The has rightly asked the divisional and district administrations to ensure universal testing of all foreign travellers to Jammu and Kashmir in the light of the emergence of Omicron.
The Chief Secretary rightly underscored the need to adhere to the laid down guidelines and test all the incoming foreign travellers through international flights. As per the guidelines, the negative travellers will be sent for home quarantine of 7 days and re-tested on the 8th day, whereas, the COVID positive patients will be sent to institutional quarantine centres for 15 days and their samples will be sent for genome sequencing at ICMR designated testing laboratories. It is imperative to ensure the directions sans any laxity.

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