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Corona-effect: Ahead of its opening Tulip garden closed in Kashmir

Corona-effect: Ahead of its opening Tulip garden closed in Kashmir
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Srinagar: At a time when Kashmir was all set to showcase the beauty of Asia’s largest Tulip garden overlooking famous Dal Lake in Srinagar where 13 lakh tulips were on a display for guests from March 25 onwards, the deadly Covid-19 played spoil-sport forcing the closure of the garden.
The closure of garden has not caused a dent to the already ailing tourism sector but resulted in the losses of Rs 1000 Crore to Tulip garden and all its associated sectors that include tourism, vendors, shikara owners, houseboat owners, hoteliers, and last but not the least cab drivers.
“For the maintenance of garden and importing Tulip bulbs, we would have spent Rs 60 to Rs 80 lakh,” Tulip garden incharge, Sheikh Altaf said.
He said that they were planning to keep the garden open for 45 days this season with the expectation that at least two lakh guests including locals and tourists would visit the garden.
“That would have fetched us Rs 1 Crore which would go directly to the treasury of J&K UT,” he said.
“We are not able to earn that Rs 1 crore. What is more important the allied sectors like houseboat, shikara wallas, tour operators, street vendors, stall owners, tea sellers, barbecue sellers, cab drivers, hoteliers and many other sectors associated with the Tulip garden have borne the brunt. And total losses of Tulip garden and all these allied sectors is not less than Rs 1000 Crore. It’s a huge chain which has broken apart due to Covid-19,” Altaf rued.
Notably, the garden was set to open between March 25 to April 1 any time this year but will remain closed now till Covid-19 threat is over.
This year, the department had introduced one lakh additional Tulips to the already 12 lakh bulbs blooming in the garden. A water channel in the backyards of the garden to attract visitors and to prolong their stay in the garden was also a major attraction. Last year 2.58 lakh visitors including foreign and domestic tourists visited the garden.
There was also a proposal to introduce a ‘Cherry garden’ theme on the lines of one in Japan to increase the visitor’s stay in the garden.
Pertinently, the tourism sector has been badly hit in Kashmir since August 5 last year, when Government of India (GoI) announced abrogation of Article 370 and sliced the erstwhile state into two Union Territories (UTs)—J&K and Ladakh.
According to tour operators, tourist footfall has been drastically down since August last year leaving the people associated with the tourism industry in a deep crisis. However, hopes to revive the tourism sector have again fallen flat with the fast spreading novel Caronavirus, which has plunged entire world into a medical emergency. (KNO)

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