Javid Amin, Journalist based in Kashmir (J&K). Printer, Publisher, Editor of "Weekly Shohrat - Kashmir" (Print Edition) as well owner of online news portals www.KashmirPost.org / www.KashmirInFocus.com. Aimed at putting Kashmir and its issues on the global platform. An extensively traveled person enjoys writing.

Days after opening parks and gardens to the public, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday decided to open the tourism sector in a phased manner with effect from Tuesday but limiting it to tourists arriving by air only.

However, it advised the tourists above the age of 65 years to avoid coming to the union territory and also announced compulsory RT-PCR testing of all tourists at the airport on arrival.

Announcing the decision and the guidelines for entry of tourists in the UT in phase-1 valid with effect from July 14, an order issued by the State Executive Committee said, “Any deviation from this order shall attract penal action under the disaster management Act.”

The tourism sector, the backbone of J-K’s economy, was the worst hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown in March.

On July 8, the government opened gardens and parks to the public after 100 days of closure.

In phase-1, the order said there would be a partial opening of the tourism sector for external visitors from outside J and K, limited to tourists arriving by air only.

“All incoming tourists must have confirmed hotel bookings for the duration of their stay. All incoming tourists must have confirmed return air tickets to any place outside J&K, either to their departure point or any other destination,” the order said.

It said there would be compulsory RT-PCR testing of all tourists on arrival.
“Only tourists coming by air will be permitted. On arrival there shall be compulsory RT-PCR testing of all the tourists at the airport of arrival,” it said.
The order said till the test result shows a negative result for COVID-19, a tourist would remain in the hotel where the booking has been made and shall not be permitted to move out.

It said the test results would normally arrive within 24 hours except in special circumstances. “The hotel management shall be required to ensure compliance with this protocol.”

It said those tourists arriving with COVID-19 negative reports from their departure point would not be required to remain isolated in hotels.
“They shall, however, be also required to give their sample for RT-PCR testing on arrival at the airport,” the order said, adding the tourists testing positive would be sent for treatment to a medical facility as per protocol.

It said the taxis or transport facilities have to be pre-booked through the hotel or travel agency for which procedures would be put in place by the tourism department on its website.

“The tourists above the age of 65 should avoid coming on a tourism holiday. Tourists have to mandatorily pre-book their accommodation online in hotels, houseboats or guest houses.”

“The proof of the same shall be checked on arrival. Taxis/transport to the hotel shall also be pre-booked by the hotels, travel agencies,” the order said, adding the list of such hotels and travel agencies would be available on the website of the J and K Tourism Department.

It said all tourists should have the Arogya Setu app installed on their phones and shall be checked for ‘safe’ status on the app at the time of arrival before entering the premises.

“The hotels, houseboats, and guest houses or the travel agents will arrange for transport of the tourists to the airport for their departure from J&K,” as per the order.

Here are things you need to keep in mind if you plan to visit J&K:

  • Only those coming by air would be permitted to enter J-K in the first phase, according to guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
  • All tourists will have to install the Aarogya Setu mobile application and make regular updates regarding their health.
  • Tourists above the age of 65 should avoid coming to J-K, the guidelines say.
  • It will be mandatory for tourists to pre-book their accommodation online in hotels, houseboats, or guesthouses, etc. “The proof of the same shall be checked on arrival,” according to the guidelines.
  • They must have confirmed hotel bookings for the duration of their stay as well as confirmed return tickets to any place outside J-K, either to their departure point or any other destination.
  • The hotel administration or travel agents will have to provide the travelers with a pick-up facility from the airport and also drop them on their departure.
  • Taxis or transport facilities have to be pre-booked through a hotel or travel agency for which procedure will be put in place by the tourism department.
  • A Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RTPCR test to detect Sars-Cov-2 or coronavirus will be compulsory for visitors when they arrive.
  • “Till the test result shows a negative result of Covid-19, a tourist will remain in the hotel where the booking has been made and shall not be permitted to move out. A form in this regard shall have to be signed at the airport,” the guidelines said.
  • “Test results will normally arrive within 24 hours except in special circumstances. The hotel management shall be required to ensure compliance with the protocol,” the guidelines said.
  • Visitors with Covid-19 negative reports from their departure points would not be required to remain isolated in hotels, the guidelines said.

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