It is the middle of the holiday season in India. Almost all the major schools and colleges are closed for five or six months due to the deadly virus (COVID-19). For the tourism players in Kashmir it means a rapid, continuous flow of tourists to Kashmir from the Indian plains. It is usually said that the higher the humidity and temperature goes in the Indian plains, higher is the rush of the tourists coming to Kashmir.
Kashmir has everything that the tourists look forward to: salubrious meadows, gushing rivulets, charming brooks, terraced gardens, snow peaks and enchanting woods. Besides, the temperature even in peak summer hardly touches thirty in the peak tourist spots.
This year, while we were expecting a bumper tourism season, there are unfortunately no tourists at all. A mid day stroll at the famous gardens, otherwise emblematic of the influx of huge batches of tourists, are empty without the frolicking children of tourists playing in them.
The highland resorts of Gulmarg, Dodhpathri, Aharbal and Pahalgam are also witnessing low arrival of tourists due to coronavirus. However, the scene is just pathetic at the Nehru Park are of Dal Lake-The place which was always flooded with tourists now cuts a sorry figure. One does not even recall when we had the famed Boulevard and Gupkar so devoid of tourists. The hoteliers are sitting idle, the transporters are in doldrums, the trekking guides are idling away their days-it is a pathetic scene if you happen to be one of the key players associated with tourism.
It may not come as a surprise because the hill stations of Shimla and Dehradun are also witnessing the same due to this virus. There have been forces at play to ensure that the economy of Kashmir is brought to a standstill. The current establishment led by the Lt Governor must ensure that the tourist rush is restored to Kashmir. The lack of tourists rush in the peak holiday season does not augur well for the economy of Kashmir.
There is a lot that needs to be done. We just hope that it is done as soon as possible so that at least for the moths of October, November we have some semblance of tourism rush in the valley. We want tourists to be milling in and out of our terraced gardens. We want couples of honeymoon to be visiting our valleys and meadows. We want it to happen as soon as possible.