Srinagar: A government advisory on August 2, ahead of the abrogation of Article 370, asking tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to leave Kashmir due to ‘prevailing security concerns’ ended on Thursday. A fresh advisory has now been issued which says the previous advisory is withdrawn.
“The tourists desirous of undertaking visit to the state shall be provided all necessary assistance and logistical support,” it added.
People associated with tourism have welcomed the move. “It is really good if tourists start returning to Kashmir. Tourism sector in Kashmir has never been hit so badly, things are worse than what they were during the protest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016,” said Shakeel Rashid, a shikara operator in Dal Lake.
In Kashmir, tourists were never barred from going to the Valley even in the peak of militancy during the 1990s.
Tourism is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy and a source of livelihood for lakhs. A mass exodus of tourists hit tourism in a big way. Prior to the advisory, 5,21,000 tourists and 3,40,000 pilgrims visited Kashmir. July saw the maximum arrivals with 1,70,000 tourists.
Hotels in Kashmir shut down their operations and retrenched the staff following the massive drop in tourists.
“Our hotel is shut since August, we have retrenched the staff,” said Mohammad Subhan, a hotel owner in Srinagar. “Lifting of the advisory may help us to revive our business finally.”
“How are the tourists will deal with communication blackout. Govt must lift curbs on it,” said Abdul Rahim, a transporter.