Srinagar Dec 17: The year 2022, almost poised to wrap up, is leaving behind countless achievements in Jammu and Kashmir, one of them being the record number of tourists who visited the union territory in the first nine months of this year.
People of Jammu and Kashmir again got a reason to leap off from their chairs as 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.
The reasons behind the record-breaking achievement are the intense efforts by the administration to promote tourism across the Kashmir valley.
One of the reasons, fit to recall, is the festival of festivals- Jashn-e-Chillai Kalan festival, which was kick-started with the support of the administration and culminated last week.
The Jashn-e-Chillai Kalan festival, also attracted many tourists, despite all meteorological stations in the valley recording sub-zero temperatures.
Winter tourism in the union territory was started with a two-day Houseboat Festival, organized by the Kashmir tourism department.
The said Houseboat festival was organized on Dal Lake in Srinagar, in a bid to attract tourism.
During the festival, the houseboats and Shikaras were decorated and lit like a bride.
Colourful cultural programs were also organized in Shikaras and decorated houseboats in the middle of the cold winter in Kashmir, while photo booths based on the tourism and culture of Kashmir were also organized.
On this occasion, the tourists who came to visit the valley were bursting with happiness after seeing the colourful Dal Lake.
Apart from this, the tourism department is opening two more tourist destinations– Yousmarg and Doodhpathri– to attract more tourists this winter season.
Director of Tourism, Fazl-ul-Haseeb earlier, 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 the 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.
Tourism and Youth Services & Sports Departments also have the best facilities and arrangements for tourists, planning to visit Jammu and Kashmir, making it the perfect tourist destination this season.
The snow clearance plan, signages, road connectivity, drinking water supply, working of ski patrols and rescue teams, medical facilities, etc. are in perfect sync with the daily requirements of the visitors.
The Jammu Kashmir government has outsourced 12 of its properties including the Pahalgam Club, Ashoka Hotel in Jammu, and the huts of the J&K Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) at Patnitop to be converted into vacation houses to meet the tourist needs. This year somehow the crowd was managed thanks to the “home-stays” concept introduced by the administration, but in 2023 Kashmir will have a wider range of lodging facilities for an even more memorable experience.
For the first time in 70 years Sonamag, Karnah, and Gurez will remain open for tourists during this winter season. The introduction of adventure sports on the Himalayas were far too hit to not be included in the winter itinerary, said the J&K administration.
Before 2022 people had not even heard of Gurez and Karnah of the Bandipora and Kupwara districts, respectively, which are near the LoC. But, today tourists want to spend their week-long vacation in the villages, close to the border.
In October 2022 Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha while addressing the 4th edition of the Heli-India Summit in Srinagar proposed to the Industry Leaders to be a part of Kashmir’s metamorphosis. Heli-seva is the final step in connecting all treacherous climbs in Kashmir’s geography. In 2023 the government will utilize the Heli-Tourism potential of the Union Territory so that no destination should be left out.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir are known for their warm and hospitable nature, and for ages, they have accommodated outsiders and made them a part of their culture. Seeing Kashmiris in their most natural state, and hosting tourists with fervour and excitement is the best reward for the government. Three years ago no one could have imagined ‘Naya Kashmir’, now everyone wants to take part in its celebration.