According to official data, Kashmir welcomed a record 1.62 crore tourists this season, thought to be the greatest number so date. This brought much-needed relief to local merchants who depend on tourism after suffering significant losses during Covid -19’s forced lockdown.
Riding on the success of the tourism boom this season, the Tourism Department of Jammu and Kashmir is opening two more tourist destinations– Yousmarg and Doodhpathri– to attract more tourists this winter season. According to Government data, Kashmir witnessed a record number of 1.62 crore tourists this season, believed to be the highest so far, bringing much-needed cheer to the faces of local traders who rely on tourism after suffering heavy losses during Covid -19 induced lockdown.
Director of Tourism, Fazl-ul-Haseeb said, “Special arrangements, including a winter carnival, are being made to accommodate the rush of tourists this winter season. we are planning to hold two-three roadshows as well as the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) in December to attract tourists from different parts of country to the valley”.
He added, for the first time department is mulling opening up two destinations, Yousmarg and Dhoodpthri, for tourists this winter season.
“A winter carnival is also under consideration. The activities will be conducted at the two tourist destinations in concert with the Youth Services and Sports Department to woo more tourists,” Haseeb added.
In addition, he said, Government is also planning to hold similar tourism-related activities in Gulmarg and Pahalgam, two other tourist destinations in the valley, to attract more tourists.
“If the other two tourist destinations remain open this season, this will give a boost to the tourism sector in the valley, hoping, the flow of tourists will be the same as was witnessed in the summer season this year,’ Haseeb added.
Mushtaq Ahmad chaya, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers club expressed ‘hope” for a massive tourist footfall this winter season.
“The Hoteliers are upbeat to witness a large number of tourists in the winter season. We are expecting hotels to be jam-packed with tourists in Gulmarg, Pahalgam and in Sonmarg as well”.
‘We hope for a massive tourist footfall in winter here. Tourists can also avail of discount offers to stay in hotels,” Mushtaq added.
Mushtaq said that district administration should also ensure basic facilities like water, electricity and snow-clearing machines and men on stand-by to avoid inconvenience to tourists in view of inclement weather during winter time in Kashmir.
He added Government should carry out more promotional activities in Gulmarg and Pahalgam and other tourist places in collaboration with the Travel Trade to tap the tourism potential of the valley.
“The hoteliers in Sonamarg are also offering discount offers for the tourists. We are ready to cooperate and extend our support to the government to promote tourism in the valley,” he said.