Published on : Thursday, May 6, 2021
The tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir had picked up pace in November-December last year with tourists visiting the valley in large numbers to take pleasure in the snowfall and serene surroundings. However, the second wave of Covid-19 has changed everything. The second wave of Covid-19 has hit tourism harshly in the Kashmir Valley.
Local tourist operators said that the tourism season gradually started getting better from October last year. Heavy snowfall during last winter attracted thousands of tourists in Kashmir, especially in Gulmarg, where the grand sporting event ‘Khelo India’ was organized by the government. The opening of the Tulip Garden in March this year further propelled the influx of visitors.
Rauf Tramboo, President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir said, “We could see a ray of hope in November-December last year as tourists were arriving. All the stakeholders were happy. From January to March there was so much demand for accommodation in Gulmarg. Till April bookings were intact and the industry was in a comfortable position.”
“The tourism industry is considered the backbone of the economy and has a huge potential to generate employment for thousands of people. We expected good footfall of tourists in the coming months but the second wave of Covid infections in the country has altered the situation. All the stakeholders including hoteliers, houseboat owners, travel agents, shikara owners and others are worried in the valley due to ninety per cent cancellation of bookings. Only those tourists who had already made their bookings for the month of April came in small numbers,” he added.
“After October-November last year there was good traffic of tourists. There was even a shortage of accommodation due to high tourist footfall. Covid protocols and SOPs are being followed strictly followed here be it hotels and other places. After the second Covid wave, tourist footfall reduced by almost 90 per cent,” said Zulifkar, a travel agent.