Srinagar- Over 350 special boats or Shikaras, were hired by the Jammu and Kashmir government to offer a ride and to showcase the beauty of Dal Lake to the visiting G20 delegates in this capital city.
The Shikaras were hired by the Tourism department of the Union Territory administration to take the foreign delegates for a boat ride around the Dal Lake, Wali Mohammad Bhat, President of Shikarawala Association told Kashmir Observer on Wednesday.
The Shikaras, he said, were hired for three consecutive days beginning May 21, against a fixed price of Rs 770 per hour.
On May 21, Bhat said, 100 Shikaras were made available to the tourism department for the pre-event preparations. Next day, he said, 110 Shikaras were put on disposal of G20 delegates, 107 on May 23 and 45 on the concluding day of the dignitaries visit.
The delegates from 19 of the Group of 20 (G20) nations arrived in Srinagar on may 22 to participate in the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting during India’s G20 Presidency.
“The delegates enjoyed the Shikara ride and were mesmerized by the unparalleled beauty of Dal Lake,” Bhat said, adding that the tourism department had also illuminated Shikaras free of the cost.
The President of Shikarawala Association also said that the adverse tourism advisories by the west have hit the tourism sector and that he conveyed the delegates to appeal to their countrymen to visit Kashmir.
“Before 1990’s, the footfall of foreign tourists was massive but due to uncertain situations and the advisories, the tourists avoided visiting Kashmir,” he said.
An official from the Tourism department told Kashmir Observer that the delegates enjoyed Shikara ride so much that another round of ride was arranged for them on Wednesday. Besides delegates, he said, Shikaras were also made available for the journalists covering the high-profile event in this capital city.
“We are hopeful that more foreign tourists will come to Kashmir now. I informed guests from the Netherlands that the Valley is peaceful and more and more tourists should visit the place now,” said Nazir Ahmad, a Shikara owner, whose boat was among the hundreds hired by the department.
There are 4000 Shikaras in Dal Lake—which have become major attractions for tourists.
Earlier as reported, the Union Territory (UT) administration is expecting ease in travel advisories from different countries for traveling to UT with hosting of G-20 (Group of 20) leaders’ summit.
Director Tourism, Kashmir Raja Yaqoob Farooq told Kashmir Observer that the department is expecting more footfall of foreign tourists with the hosting of G-20 meeting.
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