Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Tourists Return to Kashmir as COVID Vains

Tourist operators in the Indian-administered Kashmir Valley are celebrating the return of visitors after several lean years prompted by the COVID-19 – and before – unrest over India’s revocation of the region’s special constitutional status and autonomy.

The Srinagar Airport Authority reported nearly 15,000 tourists to the Jammu and Kashmir capital on 106 flights in a single day this week. This is compared to an average of about 30 flights a day two years ago.

According to Tariq Rashid Ghani, general secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, hotels in the Valley are full and fully booked till June. “We hope to break all previous records this year,” he said in an interview.

Officials say visitors from India are plentiful, attracted by an aggressive propaganda campaign within the country and easing of the limits of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made Indians eager to travel. Out of a record 340,000 visitors in the first three months of this year, only 30,000 foreign visitors entered this beautiful valley.

Devotees Pose On The Banks Of Nigeen Lake In Srinagar.

Devotees pose on the banks of Nigeen Lake in Srinagar.

“With the steady decline in COVID-19 cases in India, people are encouraged and dared to travel. Like Kashmir, many other hill states are also witnessing similar tourist rush,” said Rauf Trumbu, president of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir.

Anamika Sheel, a Kolkata-based tourist who works for a domestic airline, told VOA that she only regretted not arriving in Kashmir sooner, fearing reports of disturbances and violence in the media. “Not only the stay but I am enjoying the food as well,” she said.

Nevertheless, security is still a concern. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a website that monitors terrorism and low-intensity warfare in South Asia, there have already been 48 violent incidents in Indian-administered Kashmir this year, killing 54 insurgents as well as 11 civilians and 11 security forces. Huh.

Tourism in the valley, famous for its dramatic Himalayan landscape and pristine lakes, fell dramatically after the New Delhi government withdrew the region’s special status on August 5, 2019. The action was accompanied by a stringent crackdown in which social media platforms and several other means of communication were cut.

By the time the security situation was stabilizing, with the worldwide coronavirus pandemic in full swing, interest in tourism, both foreign and domestic, was rapidly waning. International arrivals in the Valley declined to 3,897 in 2020 and just 1,615 last year.

But now, reluctance among Indian tourists to travel abroad is working to the advantage of the region, according to GN Itoo, director of tourism Kashmir.

“Those who otherwise went to Europe and other countries preferred to come to Kashmir” [while] Restrictions on international travel were in place. Secondly, we created houseboat festivals, Sufi festivals, winter carnivals and many other good experiences which created a buzz,” he told VOA.

The dramatic scenery has always been the biggest attraction for visitors to Kashmir, which accounts for more than 8% of its GDP directly and indirectly through the patronage of its craft and cottage industries.

Crores Of Hunts Are Busy With Tourists In Srinagar These Days At Dal Lake.

Crores of hunts are busy with tourists in Srinagar these days at Dal Lake.

But this year’s tourist season began with a banner year for winter sports in Gulmarg, a ski resort in the Himalayan mountains. Trumbu said around 1,700 skiers, snowboarders and others from 17 Indian states participated this year.

Other attractions that have contributed to the tourist resurgence include Shri Amarnath, a Hindu temple located in a cave in the snow-capped mountains. Officials expect around one million pilgrims to make the pilgrimage this year, setting an all-time record.

Another attraction is Asia’s largest tulip garden, spread over about 30 hectares at the foothills of the Zabarwan range in Srinagar. Farooq Ahmed Rather, director of Floriculture Kashmir, said more than 360,000 visitors, including local residents, had come to see this year’s spring bloom.

The most famous of all the attractions in the valley is Srinagar’s Lake Dal, where visitors can watch the mountains reflected in the water as they circle the lake in small boats known as shikaras or arrange a stay in a luxurious houseboat on the shore. We do.


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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