Srinagar Dec 10 (KINS): There is good news for tourism sector as tourism has started picking up in Kashmir and has raised high hopes among tourism players.
Tourism sector has been badly hit since August 5 last year due to restrictions imposed by the government after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 and then COVID-19 lockdown.
As per figures of Tourism Department, 43000 tourists visited Kashmir between August and December last year. While in 2020, only 16,000 tourists visited Kashmir till August. However, since the lockdown has been lifted there has been an increase in the number of tourists.
More than 6000 tourists visited the valley in September and October.
“On Christmas and New Year, all rooms have been booked either by tourists or by locals,” an official of Tourism Department told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
The government in Kashmir is also organizing food festivals where dishes of various countries and local dishes of various states are available for tourists.
Director, Tourism Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani has kick started the winter sports activities at the world famous Ski Resort of Gulmarg.
“Early snow has come as a blessing and we are ready to host tourists and winter enthusiasts in Kashmir Valley in general and Gulmarg in particular,” Wani said as per news agency KINS.
He said this season a number of Ski courses for young boys and girls are slated to be organized for which large number of applications have already been received. He said initially, four groups from within J&K and two groups from outside will undergo Ski courses in coming weeks. Two groups are exclusive for girls. He said other departments like Youth Services and Sports Department are also organising Ski courses.
Director Tourism urged the young boys and girls to come forward, actively participate and enjoy the winter games at Gulmarg.
Tariq Ahmad Ganie, who is General Secretary J&K Hotels, said the tourism sector was shut since August 5 last year.
“But there is an good response from tourists for the last few weeks. There is 100 percent booking of hotels at Gulmarg on Christmas and New Year. At present, there is 50 percent booking to hotels,” Ganie said.
He also appealed the government to extend the lease period of hoteliers so they can run their hotels smoothly.
There are 70 hotels at Gulmarg and 110 hotels at Pahalgam.
A hotlier at Gulmar said there is 100 percent booking of hotels on Christmas and New Year.
“We have suffered heavy losses since August last year. A lot of domestic tourists have shown willingness to visit Kashmir.
A tour operator said for the first time since August last year, they are receiving good number of bookings.
“Tourists have shown willingness to visit here, because of ban on international travel due to COVID-19 and weather as Kashmir received snowfall,” he said. (KINS)