COVID vaccine generates hope of tourism revival in Kashmir

Since, August, 5, 2019, the number of tourist arrivals in Jammu & Kashmir declined. The impact was felt more severely in Kashmir valley than in the Jammu division. [File: Aman Farooq/Gk]

While the COVID19 broke the back of tourism in Kashmir, its vaccination has brought some hope to the traders expecting revival in the sector.

Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya said that tourism players despite suffering losses due to host of reasons, are optimistic with the situation improving after the government began COVID vaccination.

“We are hopeful that tourists will return to Kashmir once again,” he said. “We have urged the government to promote Kashmir tourism in a big way as it needs massive promotion,” he said.

According to Chaya the tourism sector has been facing huge losses since 2019. “We have seen no business since 2019.”

It may be noted that during 2020, just around 28,000 tourists visited Kashmir against the average estimated inflow of around 1 million per annum.

Chaya said that the snowfall had also rekindled hope among tourism players as some sort of upward trend in arrivals of tourists was witnessed on New Year eve.

He said that the government should take the lead in promotional activities and engage stakeholders.

Irfan Ahmad, a travel agent opined that there are hopes among the tourism players that this year  situation will improve for the tourism sector. Babar Chowdhary, President of Kashmir Young Entrepreneurs Federation and managing director of one of the largest chain of restaurants –Hattrick group- in Kashmir said: “There is a huge expectation from the tourism sector. It provides jobs to lakhs of people in Kashmir and at the same time so many young entrepreneurs have invested in this sector.

“Last year was nightmarish for this sector, but this year we are optimistic that the tourists will visit and give us a chance to show them our hospitality which is known across the globe.”

He said that young entrepreneurs are working hard for the promotion of the hospitality sector.