March , 2017
Snowfall Brings Winter Tourism Back on Track in Kashmir
00:00 am

Shabir Bhat

The snow-capped mountains have always attracted tourists to Kashmir. Although the last six months of the year 2016 remained mostly dry, the new year saw a spate of snowfall across Kashmir. This has boosted winter tourism in the valley. Enthusiastic over the snowfall in tourist destinations like Gulmarg and Pahalgam, the state the tourism department hosted a snow carnival in the first week of February.

The carnival was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed while legislators like Mohd Abass Wani and Anjum Fazili were present along with Bollywood celebrities like Javed Jaffrey, Imran Khan and Ilyas Kazimi. The carnival which is organised by the tourism department annually at Gulmarg was scheduled to be held in the first week of January but due to dry weather in the first week, it was postponed to February.

Deputy Director of the state tourism department while talking to media in Srinagar said that his department has conducted a wide range of activities for wooing tourists to the famous ski resort of Gulmarg during the carnival. He also stated that they have initiated ice hockey, snowboarding, and painting competitions during the carnival. After the recent snowfall in the state, people associated winter tourism and travel are optimistic that this good spell of snow will help them tide over the losses incurred during the summer unrest.

Mukhtar Ahmad Jaan, President, Urban Travel Agents Association of Kashmir informed BE, “It is true that tourism related activities came to a halt after the recent unrest in Kashmir and as the situation is getting back to normal, we hope this winter we will get a high tourist inflow.” He urged the administration to streamline the air fares as affordable air fares to and from Kashmir will attract more tourists to the state. However tall claims by the state government do not seem to reflect among the visiting tourists. Shankar Singh, a tourist from Kanpur, told BE “Though Kashmir is indeed a paradise on earth, we have seen different shopkeepers charge different rates for the same thing.”

It is pertinent to mention that tourism is considered to be the backbone of Kashmir’s economy. Although security still remains a concern, the initiative taken by concerned agencies to woo tourists to Kashmir is appreciable. The administration needs to concentrate on basic infrastructure and control air tariffs to ensure a steady flow of tourists to the state.



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