The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to open up tourism in the union territory in a phased manner from July 14, after a prolonged closure of 10 months. The administration has issued a set of guidelines for the same. The tourism sector faced an unprecedented slump because of its first six months closure in the wake of the revocation of J&K’s special status. And then again the next four months of closure due to the coronavirus induced lockdown from March 20. As parks and gardens in Jammu and Kashmir reopen for tourism, visitors must mandatorily follow a set of guidelines. This includes wearing masks, using sanitisers and maintaining social distancing. Himachal Pradesh also reopened for tourism and even witnessed a heavy traffic jam at the Parwanoo Corridor.
Jammu & Kashmir To Reopen Tourism On July 14 With Strict Guidelines
Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir will reopen on July 14 after a 10-month closure of the tourism sector. The tourists will have to follow the guidelines issued by the State Executive Committee for regulating the entry of tourists in Jammu and Kashmir. As per the notification, any deviation from the order will attract penal action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The rules are as follows:
- All incoming tourists must have confirmed bookings for hotels, guesthouses, houseboats, etc. for the duration of their stay. The officials will check the proof of the same on arrival. A list of travel agencies and hotels will be available on the website of J&K tourism.
- Tourists must come only by air. All incoming tourists must have confirmed return air tickets to any place outside J&K.
- The tourists need to undergo mandatory RT-PCR tests on arrival. Tourists testing positive for the virus will need to stay in the hotel booked until the results show negative. Also, COVID-19 patients will undergo treatment in medical facilities.
- Taxis and other transport facilities have to be pre-booked through hotels or travel agencies, adhering to the procedures of the UT’s tourism department. The hotels, travel agencies, guesthouses and houseboats will provide pick-up facilities from the airport for the tourists. Transport has to be arranged for departure as well.
- Every tourist must have the Aarogya Setu app installed on phone.
- People above 65 years of age should avoid travelling to the state for tourism.
10-Month Shutdown Of Tourism Sector In J&K Led To Lakhs Of Job Losses
The tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir took a major hit due to closure in the wake of the relocation of J&K’s special sector, then again because of the coronavirus induced lockdown. The union territory faced about 10,156 confirmed coronavirus cases and 169 deaths till date. The shutdown of the tourism sector over the months has resulted in job losses and financial losses to the UT. A survey conducted by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) reveals, 10-month closure of the tourism sector resulted in lakhs of job losses. Borrowers of financial institutions also lost their capacity to repay their debts.
A KCCI spokesman informs the media, “The tourism sector is in a shambles. Artisans and weavers are jobless. The losses are more than ₹1,056 crores. It was multiplied further by the pandemic.”
Tourism Sector Is The Backbone Of The Jammu & Kashmir Economy
Resumption of tourism was important in Jammu and Kashmir as tourism is the backbone of the UT’s economy. Ever since the revocation of Article 370, there are restrictions on high-speed internet despite the restoration of communication lines. Tourism players feel that this is a barrier to tourism. But after the curfew for revocation of Article 370, the union territory witnessed a lockdown due to coronavirus.
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In the wake of the pandemic, all tourism-related activities were halted and foreign tourists to the region were also banned from entry. Most tourist spots and gardens were ordered to be shut down by the administration. One of Asia’s largest garden, the Tulip Garden in Srinagar also didn’t witness any visitors. But now with Jammu and Kashmir reopening after a long 10-month shutdown, it’s definitely a silver lining for the tourism sector of the region. Of course, visiting these tourist spots even for locals would mean wearing masks, using hand sanitisers and maintaining social distancing.