‘Best Tourism Season This Time Around In Kashmir’5 June 2011
Srinagar: If government claims are anything to go by, Kashmir is right now witnessing its best tourism season in the last four years. “In the last four years, this time around it is the best tourism season in Kashmir,” Minster for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora told Greater Kashmir. “The tourist inflow has been so good that hoteliers, houseboat owners, taxi operators and other players in tourism are happy,” the minister said. The minister, however, did not divulge the details about the number of tourists, saying it was a “policy matter.” “We cannot disclose figures for certain reasons. Otherwise we may face problems,” he said. Interestingly, tourism players believe the separatists’ call inviting tourists to visit Kashmir has worked well. President Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, Siraj Ahmad said the tourist inflow has been so far “satisfactory” this year. “The occupancy rate in hotels is over 70 per cent,” Ahmad said. However, he added: “If everything goes well, we expect a good number of more visitors”. He said majority of tourists has come from Indian mainland. “The business is of late good, but foreigners are less,” Ahmad said. On Friday Hurriyat (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani had welcomed tourists to the Kashmir valley. “Whatever your faith, whatever language you speak and to whatever region you belong to, we are bound by a common bond - the bond of humanity. You are our honoured guests,” Geelani had said. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik had also assured the tourists that Kashmir was a safe place to visit. He had also advised them not to pay heed to “false rumours.” General Secretary, House Boat Owners Association, Abdul Rashid said the cooperation from “all sides” has helped to bring in more tourists. “The houseboats in Dal Lake have more than 80 percent occupancy,” Rashid said adding that the houseboats were booked up to June 10.