Two million tourists visit Kashmir in eight months- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

SRINAGAR:  The scenic and picturesque Kashmir has been attracting travellers from across the country, and an all-time high, 2 million tourists, including 3.65 lakh Amarnath yatris, have visited the Valley in the first eight months of this year.

Director Tourism Kashmir G N Itoo told this newspaper that 16.84 lakh tourists, including foreigners, have visited Kashmir till August end of this year. Among the 16.84 lakh tourists include about 10,500 foreign tourists.

Itoo said 3.65 lakh Amarnath yatris also visited Kashmir this year and if this is added to total tourist arrivals, it means about 20.49 lakh travellers have visited the Valley this year.

The figure of 2 million tourists, he said, is all time high for Kashmir and the figure will go up further. All the hotels and guest houses in Srinagar and other tourist destinations in the Valley, including Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, witnessed 100 per cent occupancy.

The houseboats in Srinagar also witnessed 70-80 per cent occupancy.

The tourism sector was worst hit by three lockdowns since 2019 but the unprecedented tourist inflow has brought smiles back on the faces of tourism stakeholders.

Due to the increased inflow of tourists, the government gave go-ahead for homestays and tented accommodations at different tourist destinations in the Valley to overcome the shortage of space.

Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) Kashmir chapter president Zahoor Ahmad Qari said they have never seen such a tourist season. “It is the first time we are seeing such a tourist season in the Valley. There was consistent tourist inflow in the Valley right from January to July,” he said.

According to Qari, stability in airfare (between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000), an increase in the frequency of flights at Srinagar airport, hospitality offered to tourists and a safe environment for tourists contributed to the unprecedented tourist inflow to the Valley.

He, however, said there has been a decline in tourist inflow since July but they are receiving queries from travellers ahead of the puja holidays.

Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) president Abdul Wahid Malik said he has never seen this kind of consistent tourist inflow in his 35-40 years in the tourism industry.

“I saw such constant tourist inflow for the first time in my life”.

“The figure is all time high,” he said adding never before have 15 or 16 lakh tourists visited Kashmir either before or after outbreak of militancy in the Valley in 1990. Wahid said a group of travel agents visited Kashmir and during their interaction with them, they said this year Kashmir was the preferred tourist destination for the travellers. “The tourists preferred coming to Kashmir, which has a lot to offer, than Himachal,” he said.

Source link