Shikara Photograph:( WION )
All the tourists arriving in the valley are being asked for their vaccination certificates as well as the test results of COVID-19
Kashmir's tourism industry has been completely shattered due to Covid's second wave and lockdown. However, now, with cases finally coming down, the industry is now slowly opening and tourist arrivals have begun, with stakeholders hoping for a good summer season.
With the government allowing all hill stations such as Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonmarg to open and making sure that all covid protocols are followed, the hotels and houseboats around the Dal lake are opening too. Tourists could be seen taking shikara rides around the lake and enjoying pleasant weather.
The tourist department along with the stakeholders are providing huge discounts to people arriving in Kashmir. Some hotels have slashed their prices by 50 per cent.
''Overall experience was very nice, Main areas are still under the lockdown as we have been here for the last ten days, Srinagar is opening slowly but gardens are yet to open. Apart from this, Pahalgam and Gulmarg are open, the gondola was shut but we have noticed that there aren't many covid cases here. Because of the lockdown since last one year, it has affected the business and we got a lot of cheap deals. Five star hotels are giving 50 per cent off, it's all because everything was shut," said Rounak, a tourist from Mumbai from WION.
While many tourists in the valley requested the government to open the gardens in the entire valley so that tourists can enjoy the beauty.''It was a very nice experience but gardens like tulips and Shalimar are not open yet. If people start coming I am sure they will open everything. And we have noticed that there are very few covid cases and I think the government should open the place now," said Forum R, a tourist.
All the tourists arriving in the valley are being asked for their vaccination certificates as well as the test results of COVID-19. Tourists have also been asked to make sure that they follow all the Covid protocol.
''To come here in Covid, we started our journey from Rajasthan. We got our RT-PCR test, our antigen test, and all permission and E-pass. It's a wonderful experience here and we are very excited. People are welcoming. It's a positive way and cases are getting down, everyone is getting back to business and that's important.'' said Manoj Kumar, another tourist.
Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the Kashmir valley and the government is slowly opening areas that were closed due to lockdown.
''We started from Jaipur from 12, we went to Leh and then came here. Cases are coming down and things should open for the tourists, the experience was really good. We don't see any risk and we have followed all covid protocols. It was a very wonderful experience. It's very important to open all the businesses as people depend on them.'' said Sarvind Yadav, a tourist from WION.
The lifting of restrictions in the valley has brought smiles to the faces of tourism stakeholders. They are hoping that arrivals will increase in the coming days. The stakeholders however are requesting the tourists to get vaccinated before the arrival and also get the test done before travelling.
''By God's grace, things are improving, but we have to win the war against the pandemic. We appeal to tourists to come here after being vaccinated, we won't allow them to take shikara rides without being vaccinated. We check the certificates first and then take them around. We ourselves got vaccinated. Tourists should come and we are hopeful they will. We have to keep our distance, wash ourselves and make sure to follow all covid protocols," said Abdul Razak, a shikara owner.
With the decrease in covid cases in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, tourism Industry is finally opening its door for tourists and they expect that within next few weeks there would be a revival of tourism in Kashmir valley.