Restriction on Peoples’ entrance to Neelum angers the travel industry

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In view of the reported spike in Covid-19 cases also as decisions of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and therefore the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government, the administration in Neelum valley has slapped a ban on the entry of tourists from July 19 to July 29.

Notification of the present effect, issued by Deputy Commissioner of Neelum on Monday, however, triggered strong anger among the people affiliated with the tourism industry within the picturesque valley, who said it had been the “worst manifestation” of the AJK government’s “double standards”.

The notification said the ban would apply to the entire of AJK but especially to Neelum valley where the amount of tourists from across the country surpasses the remainder of the territory due to its breathtakingly beautiful tourist locations.

The notification, which was addressed to the officials concerned and therefore the presidents of guesthouses association and transport union, said that keep with the ban no bookings within the guesthouses and of the vehicles should be made after July 18 and therefore the already made bookings should be canceled.

It warned that action would be taken in the event of a violation of the ban.

Interestingly, the order was issued but 48 hours after two huge political gatherings held in Neelum valley under the aegis of AJK’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

In their reaction to the ban, people affiliated with the tourism industry announced that they might stage a protest demonstration on July 15.

“If many activists can visit Neelum for political events while brazenly disregarding the so-called precautionary measures regarding Covid-19 right under the nose of the whole government and nobody within the administration bothers about it, why they’re banning private visitors who mostly are the families and observe precautions,” said a guesthouse owner.

He told Dawn that he and other hoteliers had received advance money for bookings during this era and spent an equivalent on different heads, like salary payments, rent, and other purchases.

“Where from will we return the quantity that we’ve already spent to the persons whose bookings you ask us to cancel?” he asked.

The guesthouse owner who didn’t want to be identified maintained that long holidays helped his community earn the maximum amount as could meet their recurring expenditures during the lean period.

He said if the govt was bent upon stopping tourists it should offer a package to the tourism industry people in order that they might meet their unavoidable expenses.

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