Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) has expressed its dismay over the financial package announced for the revival of the business sector by the Lt Governor Manoj Kumar Sinha.
In its statement, TAAK said travel agents and tour operators are the main promoters of the tourism industry who have been left clueless post Aug 2019 developments and are forced to fend for themselves under prevailing circumstances .
TAAK further said the tourism industry which is one of the mainstays of the Kashmir economy has almost been ignored in the recently announced financial package.
It further said the tourism industry was the first to be hit after the government in its order unilaterally announced and forced tourists to leave JK in August 2019.
“The travel agents had spent a huge amount of finances for tourism promotion last year and incoming bookings were confirmed against advances till the year end. After the Govt order came into force all the travel agents were forced to refund the advances received from their clients to the hotels/houseboats. The losses suffered by the tourism industry were colossal, especially travel / tour operators for no fault of theirs and never compensated till date."
The tour operators’ body said no sooner did they start tourism promotion again in March 2020 this year that Covid-19 pandemic struck over it has proved as double whammy to the already ailing tourism industry.
The current ongoing pandemic is surely not going to get over very soon, the question arises as to how this industry will sustain under present circumstances when we know it is the last sector to revive after the things start falling back in place."
It further said under prevailing situations grant in aid to the tourism sector is what is needed to be given by the Government and interest subvention of 5 percent is no solution to the already debt heavy tourism sector.
"Other business entities connected directly with tourism have been dealt marginally whereas they have been facing colossal losses since August last year. The Tourism industry still remains one of the leading direct employment generators ."