What will happen to India’s tourist season 2020?

Though officially open, tourism in the wake of Covid-19, faces an uncertain future in J&K, Himachal, and even Goa

Image Courtesy:hotelierindia.com

Tourism continues to be one of the worst hit sectors in the Covid-19 pandemic. From Jammu and Kashmir to Goa, there are too many restrictions,  and not enough tourists willing to take the risk of contamination. Even as states have ‘officially’ reopened for the tourist season 2020, the citation remains precarious for the industry.

For example, according to a news report in the Tribune, the Jammu and Kashmir government has announced that hotels in the union territory will now be opened at full capacity. However, there are no takers, the Vaishno Devi pilgrimage major draw for domestic tourists around this time, has been suspended in the wake of Covid-19. Most other tourist places are also still shut. The Tribune reports that most hoteliers continue to keep their establishments closed due to “non-availability of customers” and “unfavourable circumstances”.

They say that this decision to reopen “holds no meaning” for them as there are no tourists coming in anyway. Rakesh Wazir, president of the Katra Hotel and Restaurants Association told the Tribune that their establishments can’t be opened as they wont be financially viable “till the government takes a decision on allied and related sectors, including opening of tourist destinations and resumption of pilgrimage. There are around 600-650 hotels and lodges in Katra town and, except five to six which are being used as quarantine facilities, all are closed.”

He told The Tribune that the hotel industry in Katra was facing losses of upto to Rs 4.5 crore per day and estimated a total loss of Rs 600 crore. Over 25,000 employees have also been jobless as the season is yet to open in the real sense. However, according to the administration’s guidelines for Unlock 2.0, hotels can function at full capacity in Jammu and Kashmir, and restaurants can have 50 per cent capacity for dine-in services.

Inderjeet Khajuria, chairman of the All Jammu Hotels and Lodges Association, told The Tribune that tourists cannot even reach the state because, there are no train or inter-state bus service to J&K, and “it will take at least two years” for hotels  to return to normal business. He estimated a daily loss of Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore. 

In Himachal Pradesh, the other hill tourist state popular with tourists the state government has also allowed reopening of hotels and restaurants however, according to news reports, the industry stakeholders in major tourist areas of Kangra district do not want to restart operations just yet. The Tribune reports that most of the hoteliers in Kangra will keep their businesses, including home stays, closed till September as they are scared that an influx of tourists from other states can bring the risk of Covid-19. Kangra has already seen a rise in Covid-19 cases in the past fortnight, said the report.

Anyone coming to the state is required to undergo a 14-day home quarantine. Those coming from abroad are required to be sent to seven-day institutional quarantine and seven-day home quarantine. There is strict monitoring by health officials and the police too.

Similar stringent restrictions for tourists  have been put in place in Goa, another tourist hotspot which sees a deluge of both domestic and international tourists as soon as the Monsoons retreat. 

Goa officially reopened for tourists on July 2. Chief Minister, Goa, Dr Pramod Sawant had made the announcement with caution, “Goa is reopening for tourists. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the state and is the backbone of our economy. In this unlock phase, we are kick starting our economy again by keeping the highest health safety norms in place in view”


The state government has made a comprehensive checklist tourists have to follow even before they travel. Tourists are required to pre-book the hotels approved by the government. They have to fill a self-declaration form and are encouraged to carry a Covid-19 negative certificate issued in the last 48 hours. Those without one will have to pay and get tested in Goa, as soon as they enter by road, train or air. After the swabs are collected the tourists will have to stay in isolation at their hotel till the results are declared. In case they test positive they will be sent to “institutional quarantine.”

According to the official update, till Friday, Goa had 2,251confirmed cases, out of which 895 were active, and nine people had succumbed to Covid-19.


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