Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 120, 8 July 2020

Conflict and COVID as the double jeopardy to the tourism industry in J&K
D Suba Chandran

In the news

On 6 June, the Tribune carried a news report highlighting the plight of taxi operators in Jammu. The news report quoted a taxi operator in Jammu stating: "The government is yet to decide on the resumption of the Vaishno Devi pilgrimage and there is no work at the local level as well. We are virtually on the verge of starvation. This taxi was the only source of income for me. My family has not been able to pay the tuition fee of our two children which is being repeatedly demanded by the school."

The problem is the same in Kashmir valley and holds for all economic activities in both the regions of J&K – Jammu and Kashmir – which is dependent on tourists – who come from rest of India and across the world – for different purposes – pilgrimage, holiday and adventure. For those who are dependent on tourism, Summer is lost already.

Issues at large

First is the COVID restriction that has prevented the movement of people into J&K. The closure of traffic into J&K by rail, road and air due to COVID restrictions has hit both the regions equally. During this period – the two capitals – Jammu and Srinagar should have been brimming with tourists and pilgrims. Multiple airlines from different destinations would bring rest of India into these two regions. And also, international tourists.

Second is the self-restriction by the tourists and the pilgrims, due to the impression that the situation in J&K is not normal to visit. Last year (2019) witnessed many developments before and after 5 August (when the Government of India revoked the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution) that has been widely discussed in the national and vernacular media. The tourists and the pilgrims, who would throng J&K for a shikara ride in the Dal lake in Srinagar, or play winter sports in Gulmarg, or take the pilgrimage trek to Vaishno Devi and Amarnath – have become a trickle.

Third, is the security lockdown. Much before the COVID, there was a security lockdown imposed, due to the resurgence of conflict in the Valley. Violence has been steadily increasing, and 2020 has already witnessed a record number of terrorist incidents in the last few years.

Fourth, is the increased investments in the tourist infrastructure by individuals. During the late 2000s and early 2010s, and the domestic expectations within J&K increased with a spurt in tourist arrivals to both the regions – Jammu and Kashmir. There was an increased investment within J&K on the tourism industry by individuals, as the tourism numbers steadily increased before 2016-18. New trains and flights to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar would mean, increased tourists and economic opportunities. Many took loans or gave up other activities and invested in tourism-related infrastructure. Like the taxi operator quoted above. There are numerous others from multiple industries – hotels, roadside eateries, guides, indigenous handicrafts (for example - carpets, curtains, paper maches) etc. And it is not just people from the two cities; it included others from towns such as Gulmarg in the Valley or Katra in Jammu.

In perspective

For both the regions of J&K, it is double jeopardy with conflict and COVID. Third jeopardy comes with the topography of J&K, where the industrial sector has not taken off. Agriculture and tourism have become the mainstay of the economy. And there has been a shift from agriculture to the services during the recent years, due to other problems that are facing agriculture in the rest of India, from produce to labour. As the COVID outside and conflict inside continues, the tourism industry in J&K will face a tough time this year.


D Suba Chandran is the Professor and Dean, School of Conflict and Security Studies, at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence

October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal

January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings

December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019
November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar