Ladakh tourism: What’s lost and what’s left in 2020

Amidst dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the continuous stand-off between India and China at the borders, the recently formed union territory of Ladakh, has been trying hard to manage the degrading economy in absence of tourism, the leading sector of the region that helps in economic growth. Ladakh, which receives much prominence for its culture, heritage and spirituality, in the past six months (March to August, 2020) witnessed a complete lull in the tourism business, which is otherwise, the most tourist-heavy period.

“As far as the season for this year is concerned, not much has been gained. Tourism hasn’t remained untouched due to the effects of the Covid crisis. Most people generate their income through this sector. Business for travel agents, tour guides, cab drivers have scaled down. In addition, a lot of youth, engaged in the hospitality sector, stand at a loss,” said Kunzang Dorjey, who owns a travel agency in Leh Ladakh.

Although Ladakh witnessed a slump in tourism, it’s gearing up to cash on during the winter tourism period. Festival of Lohsa (Ladakhi new year), Chadar trek, Snow leopard spotting trek and adventure sports are some of the line-ups the industry is looking forward to for revival. While tourism has undergone a slumber and the related activities stay dormant at most places, Ladakh offers a slight aberration to the trend.

The General Secretary for All Ladakh Tour Operator Association, Deleks Namgyal said that many remote villages have already been connected through roads, which will make sights of a busy road a thing of the past, so that tourists can view the natural and pristine look of the landscape unhindered. Clean up drives for the treks have been initiated, too. However, the tourism for these treks remain null at the moment, and the same goes for the hospitality industry.