SRINAGAR: Though Kashmir saw unprecedented tourist arrival this year giving economic boost to hospitality and its allied sectors but sadly horticulture was the worst hit.
The two sectors are the mainstay of the Kashmir economy but the horticulture sector with which almost seven lakh families are directly or indirectly involved was severely affected by multiple reasons including logistics. This came despite bumper production of apples but the returns were remarkably low with a single box of apples fetching as little as 400.
President of Kashmir Chamber of commerce and Industries (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq said that the horticulture sector was hit because of road blockades on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. He said that the situation will continue to be the same until the highway issue is not addressed.
Despite tourism witnessing good returns, general trade could pick up because of multiple issues. Ashiq cited liquidity crunch and the ongoing renovation and developmental works in Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk centre as the reason for the low business. He said the renovation led to road blockades and affected retail business.
“Let us pray that 2023 shouldn’t be like 2022. We hope the government takes certain measures to bring down unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir”, he said.
He said that LG Manoj Sinha announced an economic package for reviving ailing business and around 80 percent mentioned in the package were implemented.
Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) President Muhammad Yaseen Khan told KNO that business has been slow for the last two years because of inflation.
He said that there was a business of around 15-20 percent this year.
“Due to inflation, people aren’t able to buy things and hence impact the trade. This year saw very less compared to previous two years of Covid pandemic,” Khan added.
He said that around 60 percent of the package announced by the LG administration in 2020 has been given while the rest is still pending. He expected a good business season next year. Muhammad Yaqoob Dunoo, spokesman Kashmir Houseboats Association told that this year saw a record breaking tourism season after two years of Covid pandemic.
“With decline in Covid cases, people started visiting tourist spots and Kashmir being called Paradise on earth, tourists started visiting here and there was record breaking tourist footfall up to the end of June this year,” he said.
However, the rush declined after June but overall this year business was good. “I hope that this year tourist flow will be very good as well,” he added.
Manzoor Kundroo, Managing Director Great Himalayan Travels and Senior Member of Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK) told that this year tourism season was very good after two years of Covid-19.He said that if the tourism department will continue to promote Kashmir with zeal and enthusiasm, Kashmir can witness more tourism flow next year. He said that tourism players have been playing their role very well to promote Kashmir tourism, however, more promotion is required. (Agencies)