Kashmir tourism industry has suffered a massive Rs 1166.81 crore loss in the last one year due both to the situation post abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tourism Department has quoted this figure in reply to a query made under RTI Act by rights activist MM Shuja.
The reply states that there were only 17,874 tourist arrivals in Kashmir during 2020. It says that the data compiled by the department shows “drastic decline in tourist footfall due to COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown”.
It states that during 2018, the number of tourists who visited Kashmir was 8, 30,758, while as the tourist arrivals, both domestic and foreign, during 2019 were 5, 65,532.
There was a decline of 34 percent in tourist footfall in 2019 which happened in the aftermath of constitutional changes on August 05, 2019, the reply states.
It states that the “loss of revenue” on account of “non functional” tourism industry in Kashmir division was 1166 crore.
On 2 August 2019, three days prior to abrogation of J&K’s special status, the authorities in an advisory had asked tourists and Amarnath Yatris to vacate Kashmir.
Later, in October 2019, the authorities had stated that tourists can now come to Kashmir. However, following COVID-19 pandemic shutdown in Kashmir left the tourism industry gasping for breath.
On July 14, 2020, the J&K government announced to open the tourism industry in a phased manner, and issued a set of guidelines for it. It added that the first phase will see tourists arriving by air only.