Kashmir Indepth

Tourist inflow increases: Over 2.20 lakh tourists visit Kashmir this year  

Ishtiaq Ahmed

 Srinagar Sep 20 (KINS): With COVID cases declining, the inflow of visitors has gained the momentum with over 2.20 lakh tourists having visited Kashmir this year so far.

Tourism has started picking up since July when there started a decline in COVID cases. Officials told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS) that 2.2 lakh tourists visited Kashmir this year so far.

“Most of them visited since July when COVID cases started going down. There was very less inflow of tourists between February to June,” the official said.

The official said in July around 48,000 tourists arrived in Kashmir while in August the number went up around 50,000. The tourist arrivals have not only brought back the lost charm to the tourist destinations but filled the stakeholders with hope.

After remaining deserted for the months, the tourist footfall has gone up at picturesque Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg.

Rakesh Kumar, a businessman of New Delhi was confined inside his home for two months after the COVID-19 2nd wave broke out. Last month, he made a programme along with his family and visited Kashmir.

“We were confined inside home for two months due to COVID and anxiety took a toll on me and my family. For one week, we visited Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Dal Lake and several other tourist destinations of Kashmir. It really refreshed our minds,” Kumar said.

Mohammad Shafi, a hotelier at Pahalgam said the foreign arrival is almost negligible since the international traffic has not resumed fully.

“We are hoping the situation will improve further in the coming weeks. But large number of domestic tourists are visiting the valley these days,” he said.

There are 70 hotels at Gulmarg, which have over 3000 rooms. Each room is charged from Rs 2000 to 8,000 depending on the facilities. Similarly, there are 110 hotels at Pahalgam and having more than 6000 rooms.

“We are doing good bookings. Compared to last month, we get a good number of tourists. The number is picking up,” he said.

A senior official of Tourism Department said training is being provided to all the stakeholders associated with the tourism sector so that the tourists visiting Kashmir during this season can feel safe while visiting here.

“All the stakeholders having interface with the tourists are being trained on Covid-19 protocols and SOPs,” he said.Recently Kashmir was chosen as the most preferred destination of 2021.

Leading travel firm Thomas Cook India and SOTC Travel has surveyed over 4,000 customers across more than a dozen Indian cities to identify emerging consumer behavior and trends that will drive travel preferences in the COVID era.

The consumers were surveyed after the government’s announcement of unlocking or easing of travel restrictions.

The findings in the survey showed that Kashmir is the most preferred destination of travelers in the domestic tourism category.

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