Published on : Saturday, December 11, 2021
Kashmir Valley has witnessed two lockdowns, back to back – first after the abrogation of Article 370 and the second after the pandemic. Tourism, which contributes 8 percent to the UT’s GDP and is the biggest industry after horticulture, has suffered badly during the pandemic.
Travel agent ShowkatKhankashi, owning Cloud Nine Travels, traveled across states to sell packages, and spent all that he had earned to keep his business afloat during the lockdowns.
“I had employed three to four people, each of whom I had to pay Rs. 40,000 in salary, even when my business was not earning anything,” Khankashisaid.
Why didn’t he give up? “Tourism is in my blood, I can’t think beyond it,” saidKhankashi, who has spent more than two decades in tourism. Therefore, he marched on.
November to March is the time when the valley witnesses the heaviest flow of tourists, who come to see the snowfall. November of this yearwitnessed the maximum number of tourists than any other November in the last seven years.
In the more recent past, 2011 was the best year for Kashmir tourism, receiving the most number of tourists in the decade at 13,14, 432. In 2014, extreme rains caused floods in the Valley washing away property worth $16 billion.
The devastating floods dropped the number of tourists to 9,27,815 in 2015. However, the recent lockdowns proved more ruinous, with the number of visitors going down to 4,99,584 in 2019 and 41,267 in 2020.
Tags: Kashmir tourism