December 2, 2021 11:24 pm

Kashmir Witnessing Brisk Tourism Season

KO File Photo By Abid Bhat

Over 1L Tourists Visited Valley In Nov, Highest Footfall In 7 Years

Srinagar- After bearing brunt of three back to back lockdowns, the tourism industry in Kashmir is witnessing a highest-ever tourist footfall in 7 years bringing much sought relief to the people associated with the industry.

After seven years, Jammu & Kashmir tourism sector has hit an emboldening number of tourists for the month of November, crossing more than a lakh number of travelers arriving till now in the valley. Early indications suggest that they have been trickling back to Kashmir, the top J&K destination city for both national and international tourists.

But many businesses that depend on tourism, including hotel operators and restaurants, see signs that even more tourists could start streaming in as the year-end winter season approaches, providing a badly needed boost as the valley’s tourism stakeholders are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

The tourism industry has once again sought to increasingly become a pillar of Kashmir’s economy. A record of 1, 27,605 travelers have visited the valley this November, and perhaps, their spending supported thousands of jobs, from restaurant workers to cab drivers to Hoteliers.

As per the data available with Kashmir Observer, it is for the first time since 2015 that the numbers of tourist arrival for the month of November has reached a record 1, 25,605. As per the data, in 2015 the numbers were recorded at 64778 and 23569 in turmoil gripped November 2016.

The data further suggests that in 2017, the tourist footfall in November was recorded at 1, 12,300. In 2018, the footfall was recorded at 33720 and in 2019, it was 12086.

As per the data, the lowest tourist footfall was recorded in the pandemic year of 2020 for the month of November, the numbers stood at 6327.
Notably, the surge in tourist arrivals to the Valley has been assessed due to the hard yards put in by the Tourism Department. In a bid to attract more tourists to the Valley, the Department had took several initiatives and organised various festivals in collaboration with stakeholders associated with the tourism industry.

Talking to Kashmir Observer, Secretary Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez said that various programmes and festivals were organised this year by the Tourism department in a bid to attract tourists across the country and the department is likely scheduled to organise various programmes and events in winter months also.

"The J&K administration identified 75 offbeat locations to promote them as destinations to visit, besides, the Tourism Directorate in Kashmir organised several programmes and festivals to attract the tourists and to bring these destinations on tourism map,” Hafeez said.

"This year all the other tourists’ destinations besides Gulmarg will be kept open for tourists and for the first time, Sonmarg will also remain open for tourists in winter," he said.

He further added, "This has been finalized only after the stakeholders in Pahalgam and Sonmarg have updated their hotels with better warmth providing equipments and we're sure the number of tourists in winter months will also increase."

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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