Covid-19 has dealt a death blow to tourism trade across the globe. The trade needs lot of efforts from all quarters if we have to witness any form of revival. Though the developed world may not face that much of hindrance in restoring the activity back, the underdeveloped regions will have to push very hard to get things back on track. Given the trade structures and business models we have here it will take a herculean effort to get tourists flocking back to this place.
Tourism in Kashmir is one of the mainstays of our economy. Not only is a huge chunk of population directly dependent on tourism trade but the yearlong activity in Kashmir is woven around the arrival of tourists.
Tourism in Kashmir has been witnessing a rough patch. Firstly, it was the cancellation of Amarnath Yatra in 2019 followed by a six month long lockdown and communication blockade following the abrogation of special provisions of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.
The move dealt a severe blow to the entire industry and later the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic proved to be the last nail in the coffin. The situation is such that at present we have 100% vacancy in all hotels and other tourist accommodations and the arrival of tourists has not started even though the booking rates have been reduced to an all time low.
Tourism trade cannot remain like it is presently. We as a developing region cannot afford to let our tourist place remain vacant and the infrastructure that is available remaining idle. Both the tourism players and the government need to think out of the box to help restore tourism activity back in Kashmir.
For this all steps that can bring some respite need to be taken so that some activity is kick started and the coming winter season can prove of some benefit for the tourism trade here.
Right now the government has sent senior officials to Kolkata to interact with tourism industry stakeholders, including tour operators, and pitch opportunities for them in the union territory as COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country.
This is a welcome step as J&K attracts large chunk of domestic tourists from West Bengal and in view of the upcoming Durga Puja Holidays.
The Travel, Trade and Tour operators of West Bengal are being apprised about the easing of restrictions related to COVID19 in J&K including lifting of curbs on entry of people into J&K by road, rail or air, opening up all tourism destinations, parks, hotels and restaurants, opening up of Gulmarg Gondola, opening up of cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes, swimming pools, lifting of ceiling in open spaces and various other measures and guidelines to facilitate tourists and general public while ensuring health safety.
But apart from this the tourism players and travel operators need to be informed that JK is promoting responsible and safe tourism and outdoor adventure activities, as a means to gradually move towards full revival of tourism.
The tourism players in Kashmir also need to be made aware about the possibilities of threat that Covid-19 still offers and that tourism revival can onlt be ensured if the tourism players here adopt all precautions religiously.