Published on : Thursday, October 29, 2020
Affected harshly by twin-lockdowns since August last year, the tourism sector in Kashmir is cautiously optimistic about getting back on track in the coming months.
The Valley did not see much tourist activity since August last year due to the lockdowns imposed by authorities: first after the Center canceled Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and then due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According tourism department officials, around 43,000 tourists arrived between August and December last year. The figure reached just 19,000 till September this year, with most of the arrivals happening before March. However, there is hope after the government opened the Union Territory for tourism in July, according to industry players. Several tourists visited Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam – the three main destinations in the Valley that are a favorite with tourists. Bookings and inquiries by visitors, especially for the winter months, are seeing a slow but steady increase over the last few weeks.
Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo, the president of Travels Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), optimistic about the prospects. There is a ray of hope and the Tourism Department has started different activities. People’s interest in travelling to Kashmir is increasing and traffic for the winter season looks promising although cent percent revival still looks unachievable. Kuthoo said that bookings and inquiries are increasing.
Kashmir is a preferred destination for most visitors. The recent information by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) also reports zero crime against tourists in Kashmir which has had a good impact. “People know Kashmiris take good care of tourists, and the stakeholders are offering very good rates. So, we are very optimistic, Kuthoo said. The TAAK president said that the stakeholders are doing their bit to attract tourists, who can take advantage of the “best rates” that are now on offer.