Hunza [Pakistan], July 16 (ANI): The tourism industry in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan has been facing severe crisis amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak as many people associated with it are fearing losing their jobs and businesses.
The hotel and tour operators association in Hunza carried out a strike and blocked the main highway as they allege inattention by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Ali Madad, president of Hunza Hotel Association said, "When COVID-19 pandemic start spreading across the world and it reached Gilgit Baltistan, we were requested by the administration to close all hotels. We agreed to their request as we decided to collectively work for the welfare of the society and control spreading the virus."
He added, "Except Gilgit, hotels in rest of Gilgit Baltistan are closed since October last year and it is almost eight months now. Earlier, it was due to winter season and then COVID-19. Tourism is the main source of income in the region. Hotel owners have constructed the infrastructures by taking high risks and have generated employment for many people. One hotel feeds almost ten families and plays a significant role in job generation."
"We appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, as he himself promised to help open the hotel industry, but the Gilgit Baltistan government has not taken any concrete stop. Even Imran Khan has not taken any stock of the situation," Madad further said.
Gilgit Baltistan is known for its natural beauty and attracts tourists, but the government's failed policies have caused major suffering to the tourism industry.
A protester said, "Imran Khan promised to open the hotels. Surprisingly, no action has been taken yet. Here, 70 per cent of the people are directly and indirectly involved with the tourism industry. Transportation, tourist guides, restaurants and workers are dependent on tourism."
Another tour operator, at the protest site, said, "We earn during the summer season and our economy is already disturbed due to slowdown and COVID-19. Our hotels are closed since October last year and we are facing intense problems."
In Gilgit Baltistan, 1,750 COVID-19 cases are registered and lack of testing facilities in the region are a major cause of concern for the locals.
In Pakistan, coronavirus cases reached 257,914 in which the number of active cases is 73,751. (ANI)