Like last year, tourism in Jammu and Kashmir has continued to flourish this year. According to the government data, there has been a massive 350% increase in foreign tourists following the G20 meeting held earlier this year. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha earlier revealed that 1.70 crore tourists visited the union territory by September this year. This speaks volumes about the turnaround in the situation. This follows last year’s record-breaking 1.88 crore tourist footfall. This also means that the number of tourist arrivals this year will go past the previous year by far.
The G20 meeting hosted in Srinagar, particularly the third tourism working group meeting, seems to have acted as a catalyst, increasing foreign tourist interest in the region. The growing tourism has gone a long way to shore up the Kashmir economy and bring back employment lost to the successive security and Covid-19 lockdown in recent years. The boom in tourism, which forms 6.8 percent of Kashmir’s GDP and employs over two million people, is also having a positive spillover effect on other sectors.
As we head deeper into winter, the tourist inflow is only going to further increase. The Valley’s upper reaches have already received snowfall. Affarwat in Gulmarg and Pir Panjal range of mountains have been draped in white blanket of snow for some time now. Snowfall in the Valley has traditionally been a great attraction for the people in mainland India, since it is a novelty for most of them.
That said, the UT administration has done everything to bring more tourists to the region over the last two years. Once the successive Covid lockdowns were over, the administration did everything to facilitate tourism. And ever since, there has been a steady increase in the flow of visitors to the Valley. The government this year earmarked another 75 tourist destinations to enhance religious tourism in the region. The tourism department has actively participated in International Trade Marts to engage international tourists. The homestay facilities have attracted tourists to far-off areas once considered a no-go zone due to security concerns. The facility was introduced by the government last year, and it has boosted border and rural tourism.
The thriving tourism has brought back jobs lost during the pandemic. Going forward, the situation looks optimistic on this front. With peace holding, tourism can once again emerge as the mainstay of the local economy.
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