The Jammu and Kashmir government has announced a relief package of Rs 3 crore for people associated with tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha announced the relief package on Friday, under which direct financial assistance will be given to people associated with tourism industry.
"In this package, Rs 2,000 financial assistance will be provided to 4,444 registered 'shikara' owners, 1,370 tourist guides, 6,663 ponywalas and 2,150 others, including those who rent palanquins for yatris. The money will be paid for two months. The relief will be transferred to only those who are registered with the tourism department," an official of tourism department said.
While the measures were welcomed by people associated with tourism, they said the amount could have been higher and should have also included more people like travel agents, hotel owners, among others. "It is a good thing that the government is thinking of such a package, but we feel the amount should have been more given how things are on the ground," Bashir Ahmad, a shikara owner at the Dal Lake, said.
Many also highlighted that the package excludes travel agents, owners of Kashmir's famed houseboats, hotels and transport operators who are also associated with tourism sector. "The package has nothing for people who are travel agents or have guest houses. They too have suffered a great deal," Hussain, a Srinagar-based travel agent, said.
Tourism has been hit in the union territory for three years now. While abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 and subsequent lockdown led to losses to the tourism sector, it has been affected by the pandemic for the last two summers. The union territory had seen some pick up in tourism during winter months this year, but the second wave of coronavirus pandemic has again hit the sector hard.