Sonamarg Thrown Open For Tourists

Tourists enjoy ride on snow sledge in Sonamarg on Thursday | KO Photo by Abid Bhat

GANDERBAL: Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Baseer Ahmad Khan Thursday inaugurated one-day Sonamarg winter festival that witnessed the participation of hundreds of locals and tourists. During the festival, various colourful activities and cultural programmes were performed.

During the day-long event various snow sports activities including skiing, snow sledge, snow biking, etc. were held in which athletes from various districts participated enthusiastically.

The event also witnessed various colourful cultural items presented by the renowned artists of the valley and scintillating performances by famous singers who enthralled the audience with various traditional folk and cultural shows.

The one-day Sonamarg winter festival was organised by Directorate of Tourism Kashmir in collaboration with district administration Ganderbal, Sonamarg Development Authority, Hoteliers’ Association Sonamarg, NIEL and NHIDCL.

Baseer Khan, Advisor to the Lt. Governor, while speaking on the occasion complimented all stake holders for making it possible to open Sonamarg destination in the month of February which usually opens in the month of April. He said that with the increase in tourist footfall in the Valley, decision was taken to reopen Sonamarg so that tourists get to see one more winter destination which is as beautiful as Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

While highlighting the various initiatives taken for promotion of the tourism sector in J&K which had been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that in the backdrop of the directions passed by the Lt Governor with regard to revival of tourism industry, a series of activities have been convened to ensure that tourism related activities are conducted to promote local tourism adding that LG is very particular in exploring other tourist destinations in whole of Jammu and Kashmir with an aim to make it  a tourist hub and boost the economy of the UT, he added. He said that Tourism has a positive impact on economy of Kashmir as it gives impetus to various allied sectors like handicrafts, handlooms and horticulture.

He also sought cooperation of all stake holders in ensuring that best services are offered to the tourists for development of tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Shafqat Iqbal in his opening remarks welcomed all the participants and said that the main aim of the event is to promote Sonamarg as another winter destination saying that with the commissioning of Escape tunnel of Z-morh tunnel, Sonamarg as a Tourist destination shall now be open during winters as well. He said all stakeholders shall be upgrading their infrastructure and services to cope with the harsh weather conditions of Sonamarg during winters.

While expressing satisfaction over the successful conduct of the event, Director Tourism Kashmir Dr. G N Itoo said that revival of Tourism sector in J&K which had been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic was only possible due to the concerted efforts of the UT Administration adding that Tourism Department has taken series of promotional programmes to revive the tourism sector and arrangements have also been made for opening of Tulip Garden and Badamwari. He said that several initiatives are being taken for promoting camping tourist destinations in the Valley.

Earlier, the Advisor also inspected the stalls displaying traditional art, crafts, ethnic cuisine, street food, etc which had been set up  by various departments including Animal Husbandry, Khadi & Village Industries, Tourism, Handicrafts, Forest, Fisheries, Horticulture, Floriculture and other Private Entrepreneurs to showcase their unique products.

Among others, SSP Ganderbal, Khalil Poswal, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Farooq Ahmad Baba, SDM Kangan, CPO, CEO, SDA, Hoteliers Sonamarg Association, officers of civil administration and tourists in large numbers attended the one day winter festival.

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