Srinagar: The government’s announcement to resume tourism activities has failed to cheer up the distressed stakeholders in Kashmir.
Tourism in Kashmir has suffered immensely for the last one year after the government’s move to abrogate Article 370. Three-month-long COVID lockdown added the last nail in the coffin.
On Monday, the government announced to resume tourism-related activities in the valley. However, tourism players question the timing given the sharp spike in Covid-19 cases and restrictions on the travel.
President, Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Ashfaq Ahmad Dugg said there is no chance of tourism revival till the end of this current year.
He said Mumbai, Gujarat and West Bengal, which contribute almost 90 percent of the domestic arrival, are severely hit by COVID -19.
“The statement by the government is not going to help us. Practically, the situation in Mumbai, Gujarat and West Bengal is not good and nobody will take a risk to visit Kashmir under these circumstances,” Dugg said.
President TAAK said tourist arrivals will be also determined by the facilities made available by the government in Kashmir.
“Even if any travel agent considers sending tourists to the valley, he will first see what facilities are available. I am sure that nobody will like to visit just to spend time in quarantine,” he said.
Umar Ahmad, a travel agent, said the COVID -19 situation will decide the tour packages. “A tourist who plans to spend a week in Kashmir will have to undergo a necessary quarantine period,” he said.
Kashmiri hoteliers said resuming tourism activities when there are restrictions in place makes no sense.
“I don’t think any tourists will like to visit Kashmir under current circumstances. We had announced a discount for locals who are intending to visit Pahalgam. It was unanimously decided that only a few hotels will function to cover up the losses,” said Abdul Wahid Malik, former president of Kashmir Hoteliers and Restaurant Association (KHARA).