COVID-19 Pandemic brought havoc to the tourism industry globally, however, Kashmir’s tourism trade was badly hit by the lockdown imposed in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. According to the figures released by the Jammu and Kashmir government, by the end of 2019, tourist receipts were down 71 percent. Tourism to a halt after the government issued advisories to the tourists asking them to not travel to Kashmir, although the lockdown is partially over, however, COVID pandemic lockdown came into effect early this year and became another reason for the industry to suffer.
According to the Kashmir Trade Alliance, losses suffered by the Kashmir tourism industry over the last five months of coronavirus lockdown amount to Rs. 1,292 crore, according to a report released by Kashmir Trade Alliance (KTA). As a result, there were an estimated 300,000 people lost jobs in the tourism industry. Figures suggest that a loss of 1168 crore (11680 million) INR was incurred by the industry in the last one year.
Tourism has been fully on halt since this pandemic started, no one visits Gulmarg which would host thousands of people every day, we have a hotel with 50 rooms, now it is empty, the government is making hollow promises of providing financial aid to the people who lost jobs”, says Mir Rasheed, general manager at a hotel in Gulmarg.
Abdul Rehman, a pony walla of Gulmarg, says, “we have stopped earning a penny from last one, there are 2000 pony wallas here, the government gave us 1000 INR once, but how would it help us in the longer run.” As the political uncertainty in Kashmir and the COVID pandemic continues, people of the valley see no end to their sufferings very soon.