Record Tourism

JAMMU and Kashmir has witnessed a tourism boom this year. And incidentally,  43 percent of the tourists are pilgrims to two Hindu shrines — Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Amarnath in Kashmir. But these visitors come on short trips to the union territory  so the administration is trying to prolong their stay.  And to this end, the J&K Tourism Department has lined up an all-India devotional song competition, cultural programmes, and multimedia exhibitions in Jammu during the ongoing Navratri period.
Similar arrangements were made during the Amarnath pilgrimage this year. The number of tents along the road to the shrine were increased from 29,000 in 2018 to 70,000. Government wants Amarnath pilgrims to also visit health resorts in Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam in the Valley. The UT government has now increased the options for tourists by developing more resorts. For example, Aharbal, Yusmarg, Tosamaidan, Gurez, historic old city in Srinagar are finding a prominent place on the tourist map of Kashmir. These places need further development of tourist infrastructure and also wider publicity for people to visit.
And in the Jammu division, the government is promoting  Patnitop, Sanasar and Bhaderwah to be go-to places for the Vaishno Devi pilgrims.  Besides this, the government is also trying to bolster the tourism infrastructure in the UT. There is a plan to set up three five star hotels in the Valley and the government is in the  process of identifying land for them.
J&K has received the highest-ever tourist footfall of 1.6 crore this year, and the administration expects the number to cross 2 crore by the end of this year. Around 3.65 lakh pilgrims visited the Amarnath shrine this year and 65 lakh visited Vaishno Devi.
With winter approaching, the tourist inflow is only going to further increase. The Valley already received the season’s first snowfall on Monday. Affarwat in Gulmarg and Pir Panjal range of mountains are draped in white blanket of snow. Snowfall in the Valley has been traditionally a great attraction for the people in mainland India, since snow is a novelty for them.
Tourism, one of the mainstays of the Kashmir economy, is one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest over the two years following the abrogation of Article 370 with successive Covid -19 lockdowns also crushing the sector. As a result, a large section of people was largely without employment. Their savings had been depleted. This included also the people associated with tourism. Here’s hoping that things improve from hereon. The waning pandemic and the return of normalcy has created conditions for unhindered tourism in the Valley. The future looks bright if things stay the same way.

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