Hope for tourism
Year 2021 has come with some hope for the tourism sector. The yearend celebrations though subdued in almost all regions across India witnessed some positivity in Kashmir as the two main tourist destinations Pahalgam and Gulmarg witnessed huge footfalls. The scenario was celebratory in some Srinagar hotels as well as they also witnessed some booking for the new year celebrations.
It is after a lull of nearly one-and-a-half years that Kashmir was again abuzz with tourists as thousands of people from different parts of the country arrived here. The situation in Gulmarg was so filling that the tourist spot witnessed huge traffic jams. The situation was such that some tourists had to ring in the New Year from their vehicles stuck in traffic.
Tourist arrivals at this point of time means a lot for tourism sector in Kashmir as it has been at its lowest ebb in past many decades now. Though global destinations are ruled out due to the pandemic and Kashmir can prove t6o be an obvious choice for domestic travelers, still the footfall was not that encouraging.
However, the arrivals at this point of time means that Kashmir still remains the choicest of destinations among domestic tourists.
The tourism industry in Kashmir has suffered in the past few years for various reasons, particularly after the government imposed restrictions following the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trade has already recorded loss of jobs to nearly five lakh people who are directly dependent on tourism. Kashmir witnessed arrival of around 43,000 tourists during the period between August and December during 2018. The figure was just 19,000 till September 2020, with most of the arrivals recorded before March.
After July 2020 as the government opened the region for tourism activity several tourists visited Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam, the three main destinations in the Valley that are a favourite among tourists.
Kashmir is a preferred destination among the domestic tourists since the region witnesses zero crime rate against tourists. The recent report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is a living proof that there is zero crime rate against the tourists in Kashmir.
Since the beginning of 2021 has shown some leads that can be utilized to encourage more and more tourists to visit Kashmir, the major stakeholders of tourism industry too have to join heads and help in contributing their bit.
The tourism departments visibility on the social media and other forms of digital media too need to be taken up on professional lines and tourist friendly portals and social media platforms need to be created to provide necessary information about all tourist destinations so that tourists can browse the required information at the click of the button.
Another aspect of tourism in Kashmir which has seen little portrayal is the adventure tourism sector. This sector can help in improving the scenario quite fast as lot of adventure loving globe trekkers are willing to explore Kashmir to the hilt.
The tourism players have to pitch in as well and try to further diversify their portfolio and include such attractions in their packages which can enhance the tourist footfall to the region.