Kashmir is witnessing tourists from across the nation lining up for spending their new year. The famous twin resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam are flowing with travellers and are booked for weeks ahead. The injured travel and hospitality industry is enjoying this return of the “good old days”.
A major reason why travellers are preferring the valley over other places might be because Kashmir has handled coronavirus better than others. J&K is registering around 250-300 new cases per day which is much lesser than other states in the country.
The recent heavy snowfall in many locations of Jammu and Kashmir is also attracting tourists. Famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir is hosting around 700-800 visitors on a daily basis. Tourists are visiting for witnessing snow-capped mountains, white-carpet meadows, eye-catching icicles and sports like skiing.
A tourist resort established at a height of 8,000 feet near Srinagar has been totally booked. Likely, many hotels are fully booked for about the first two weeks of January – some even for the whole month.
The Tourism Department is trying to make extra efforts for visitors to turn their visit worthwhile. They are planning to host many programmes.
Javed-ur-Rehman, Assistant Director Tourism, Gulmarg, told PTI that they have planned many programmes for New Year eve. They have also planned a musical evening after which, a firecracker show will take place to welcome the New Year. There will also be night skiing – torch skiing. Seven sporting events are also scheduled to take place the next day.
The official said the ski-resort is full of tourists and the hotels are fully booked for the first two weeks of January. In 2018, around 8.5 lakh domestic and foreign tourists visited the Kashmir valley, the number of tourists went down to around 5 lakhs in 2019. This year’s tourists numbers are still being compiled so the Tourism Department is yet to reveal them.
Sources said that because of the nationwide lockdown, no tourist visited the valley in April, May and June of 2020. Tourists started arriving in the valley in the month of July and the number started to pick up in September.