Unlocking tourism amid lockdown sans logic

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Illogical it sounds but the decision of government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to reopen tourism sector amid imposition of restrictions in Kashmir due to spurt in COVID19 deaths and infected cases has taken many by surprise, with tourism players and health experts stating that the decision sans logic.

The government of J&K on Saturday issued an order announcing reopening of tourism sector from July 14. On the same day, the several districts including Srinagar district was put under lockdown. In Srinagar district, over 90 areas have been declared as containment zones.

This decision of J&K government has come under sharp criticism from both the tourism industry players as well as health experts who fear that it could further aggravate situation.

“On one hand government is re-imposing lockdown and at the same time it is announcing reopening of tourism sector, opening parks etc. These illogical decisions create confusion among masses who comprehend that there is some kind of conspiracy taking place. We are totally against opening of parks, tourism sector at this crucial juncture as it could result in further spurt in infected cases,” said president, Doctors Association of Kashmir and Flu expert, DrNisarul Hassan.

“Government imposed restriction when the number of COVID cases were miniscule and lifted it when the number increased. Now they blame common people for not adhering to guidelines, it is the responsibility of the authorities to make people aware by giving them proper knowledge and information rather than misleading them by irrational decisions,” he said adding that “In this situation, health experts have suggested that complete lockdown should be imposed, it would give time to health authorities to put measures in places. We are fighting against the enemy who is invisible, in this situation our response has been be well-thought out rather than illogical.”

The tourism players too have been left baffled with the government’s decision to unlock tourism sector amid re-imposing lockdown on people.

“It is a crude joke, at this time who would come to visit Kashmir. When even hoteliers are confined to their homes, markets are closed. Tourism is staying at hotels, there are many allied activities which support economy. This decision of government to reopen tourism at the time when it has imposed lockdown due to increase in cases raises suspicion about the government’s motive,” said secretary general, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir, Tariq Rashid Ghani.

“We were asking the authorities to reopen tourism sector, but the decision came at a wrong time, when on one hand orders were being issued of lockdown and on the other side, there was announcement of reopening of tourism sector, “ said president Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Owners Federation, Abdul Wahid.

When asked the Director Tourism Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani about the decision of reopening tourism sector, he said “We are planning for future this virus will stay for sometime. In view of the situation the decision was taken to reopen tourism so that we could be prepared to tackle it. We are making sure that all the SOPs are adhered. On first day of reopening tourism sector, one tourist has arrived to Kashmir.”

He said that government has issued guidelines for entry of tourists. In this phase, tourism limited to those arriving by air only. RTPCR testing of all tourists compulsory on arrival and tourists to have confirmed hotel bookings. All the tourists must have confirmed hotel bookings for the duration of their stay. It is mandatory to pre-book accommodation online in hotels, houseboats or guesthouses. The proof of this will be checked at the time of arrival.