December 2003 News

Gulmarg gears up for winter fun

2 December 2003
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

GULMARG: Encouraged by the increase in the number of tourists visiting the Kashmir Valley, the State Government is organising a series of events to showcase Gulmarg. The State Tourism Department is offering special packages, such as those for students and honeymooners, and is also working on promoting Kashmir as a destination for tourists in the winter months. The Tourism Minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir, said: 'We want to tell the tourists that the valley is as beautiful in the winter months as it is in summer.' Moreover, the high altitudes of Gulmarg are an attraction to those who like adventure. 'The snow adds to the beauty and that is what we want to tell the world,' Mr. Mir said. 'We have never claimed that complete normalcy has returned to the Valley but we strongly believe that it is a safe destination for tourists.' In addition to the 1.55 lakh pilgrims who visited the holy cave of Amarnath, a record number of 1.75 lakh tourists visited the State this year. The winter programmes in Gulmarg will begin with the 'Christmas Night' on December 25 and will be followed by special events on New Year-eve. A number of tournaments, including a skiing competition, are being organised. These will be followed by the National Winter Games in February. 'Over 500 skiers from around the country are expected to participate in the games,' Mr. Mir said. 'Gulmarg is the cheapest place in the world for skiers,' said Farooq Ahmed Shah, Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority. Gulmarg will get a new look soon. Work on new projects is in full swing. 'It is going to be an international destination for tourists,' he said.


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