Kashmir Indepth

Ahead of New Year celebrations, tourists throng Gulmarg, Pahalgam  

Raouf Dar
Srinagar, Dec 28 (KINS): Hundreds of tourists have arrived in famous Gulmarg, Pahalgam and other places in the Valley to celebrate New Year.
A hotelier in Gulmarg told news agency KINS that tourists from across the country are rushing towards this famous ski resort in north Kashmir on the New Year’s Eve.
People associated with travel trade say other tourist destinations in Kashmir have also witnessed a good number of hotel bookings.
They say tourist arrivals started to pick up from December 23 to celebrate Christmas here and later stayed put to ring in the New Year from Kashmir.
“The snow is the only thing during winters which attract tourists, especially skiing lovers to visit Gulmarg,” said a senior tourism department official, adding, “In order to make hassle free journey to Gulmarg, government has put in various measures enroute to ski-resort.”“
“Tourists returning to Kashmir is a good omen. We are hoping that the revival of the tourism industry will help us recover the losses which we have suffered during the past one and half-years,” said a hotelier.
He said that Gulmarg has received a good number of tourists and we are hoping that the number of tourists visiting other parts of the Valley too will increase in coming days. “Our hotels have been vacant for nearly 2-years now. Let’s hope COVID vaccine will end the pandemic and normalcy will return,” the hotelier added.
A restaurant owner said that during the past 2-years, many eateries have winded up the operations and hundreds of people have been rendered jobless. “If the COVID goes, the situation will improve. The restaurants that have downed their shutters may once again come back to life. Our industry has been hit very badly. We are hoping it gets revived,” he added.
A travel agent, who organizes package tours for the tourists, said, “During all these months we have been requesting the government to come for our rescue by providing us some relief. Unfortunately, nothing was done to help us out so that we could survive.”
He said, “During the past few weeks we have been receiving many enquiries and it seems that tourists want to visit the Valley. Signs of revival are there but it can take some more time. Another thing that COVID has taught is that we cannot depend on anyone for help. We have to help ourselves to stand on our own feet.”
An official of the Tourism Department said, “Our department is putting all the efforts to woo the tourists. A plan is being worked out to help the small time tourism players who have suffered during the past two years. Slowly things are falling in place. We are hopeful that the coming days will be better.”
A businessman said that their fraternity is waiting for the rehabilitation package that was announced by the government. “If business has to be revived the government will have to move an extra mile to help our fraternity,” he added.(KINS)

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