Srinagar, Mar 5: Tourism players in Kashmir are staring at bleak future as coronavirus scare has spread across the continents forcing the airlines to suspend operations in many countries.
People from coronavirus hit countries including China, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, United States and Indonesia formed the biggest chunk of foreign arrivals in Kashmir last year.
As many as 4572 tourists from Thailand visited the valley last year followed by 543, 731, 2918 arrivals from China, the US, and Indonesia, respectively.
The coronavirus death toll in China has climbed to 3,000, while as six persons have died in the US. Similarly, the virus is increasingly engulfing countries including Thailand where 47 cases were tested positive.
Sources in the tourism department said the valley is witnessing very few foreign arrivals with none reporting from the virus hit countries. “Since the virus has spread across countries, there has been a drop in arrivals. As against 6954 tourist arrivals in December last year, there were mere 3792 in January,” they said.
Sources said not a single tourist has come from China during the last month.
Coronavirus scare is giving sleepless nights to the travel agents who fear that their business will be the worst hit.
“Kashmir tourism is not picking up. We were pinning hopes that tourists will throng valley in April and May. People throughout the world are skeptical to travel as the virus has sent shivers across the continents,” Secretary Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) Farooq Kuthoo told The Kashmir Monitor.
Stakeholders said coronavirus could spell doom to the Kashmir tourism. “Let us hope for a better season. We appeal the government to restore 4G services in the valley,” he said.
An official of Kashmir Tourism department said the government had has set up the facility at airports to screening foreign tourists arriving in the valley.