Ray of hope
Be it the coronavirus pandemic or the situation arising post August 5, 2019 when the special provisions under article 370 were withdrawn for Jammu and Kashmir, the tourism trade has witnessed the worst of times.
Not only have the nearly four lakh people associated with the trade been jobless since then but the entire chain of people including hoteliers and house boat owners have been rendered miserable owing to a total collapse of the entire industry.
Though efforts were made to restore some sanity so that tourists start coming here, the job seems all the more difficult. However, a ray of hope has been witnessed on the horizon as some tourists have started to drop in, though restricted to a mere trickle.
During the month of July 2020, only 176 tourists had visited the Valley (by air), however the figures have increased substantially to 2592 tourists for October 2020. Since winter has made its presence felt here the first fifteen days in the month of November itself have seen arrival of 2338 tourists and the number is going up with each day.
On Sunday 574 tourists, including some foreign tourists, arrived in Srinagar marking it the highest number of arrivals in a single day after several months.
Ironically, 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 lying 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 winter season can prove of some benefit for the tourism trade here.