January 2019 News

After Many Years, Tourist Numbers Rise In Kashmir In This Season

27 January 2019
The Economic Times
Hakeem Irfan

Srinagar: The two months of extreme winter in Kashmir have witnessed the arrival of over 40,000 tourists and most of them thronged the famous ski destination of Gulmarg. Tourism industry in Valley has been struggling for past few years due to low arrival of tourists and footfall in winter is seen as a silver lining for the upcoming season. Otherwise, the hotel occupancy in Valley has hovered between 10 per cent and 20 per cent for past two years now. The official figures of tourism department reveal that around 28,000 tourists have arrived in December 2018 and around 13000 tourists have arrived in January till now. 70 per cent of the tourists go to Gulmarg in winters for skiing and other winter games. There is an increase of 45 per cent in arrival of foreign tourist and we hope to capitalize on that and get more arrivals in upcoming season. Last year, around 829,526 tourists visited the Valley, a tourism official told ET. In 2018, tourist arrival from Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia has also increased. The ongoing crisis in the tourism industry has left hundreds of people unemployed and many stake-holders have also changed their businesses in wake of massive loans and other liabilities. Tourism department is focusing on heritage tourism, eco-tourism, pilgrimage, Himalayan exploration, adventure tourism and safari. For these projects, places in each districts will be identified and developed accordingly, tourism official said. The department has earmarked Rs 100 crore for every theme and each circuit. The government has earmarked Rs 2000 crore for the development of tourism infrastructure under PM Development Package announced in 2015. The tourism department in the first phase is executing Rs 400 crore projects.

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