The return of domestic tourists to the Kashmir valley and the recent conduct of the District Development Council elections offer an opportunity for the Centre and Kashmir politicians to pave the way for normalisation. Tourists visiting Kashmir have registered a marked improvement in numbers from December 2019 in the aftermath of Article 370 nullification, but still trails levels seen in December 2018.
Yet given how tourism was all but wiped out during the lockdown, the nearly twofold rise from 6,954 tourists in December 2019 to over 13,000 in December 2020 shows that Kashmir could be recovering from the twin blows dealt by Article 370 nullification and the Covid pandemic. Devolution of funds to DDCs will help the elected DDC representatives to get to work on the ground.
The improvement in the security situation, which helped in the smooth conduct of the elections and now the return of tourists, also bodes well for the union territory. With 2021 poised to be a recovery year, helping Jammu and Kashmir script a political and economic turnaround must take top priority.
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