Press Trust of India

Domestic Tourists free to explore visits to border: Official

Domestic Tourists free to explore visits to border: Official
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Srinagar: Stating that the summer season was excellent on the tourism front, Director Tourism Faz Lul Haseeb Friday said that the department is mulling to explore more border villages for tourists this winter to give a major boost to the tourism sector.

The Director Tourism said that the footfall of tourists this year was excellent and it was much more than expected.

Asked about the status of LoC tourism which the department has initiated this year, the Director Tourism said that for tourism along the Line of Control (LoC) areas, “we have organised a border festival in Teetwal which was done in collaboration with the Indian Army. We also organised a festival in Lolab and in Gurez that had a traditional touch. We will see if there is something we can do in the Uri sector because these are our major borders.”

To a question that whether LoC tourism was accessible to all the local and foreign tourists, he said that the local tourists can explore all the LoC areas but for the foreign tourists, they have to seek permission before making a visit.

“Many people had chosen to visit Kashmir as their preferred tourist destination. It makes a lot of sense because tourists have chosen Kashmir as their favourite destination. The huge flow of tourists was a surprise for all of us,” he said.

Replying to a query about tourist arrivals in 2022, he said so far more than 2.2 million tourists have visited Kashmir including those who have come here for Amarnath Yatra. Without Yatri’s it is nearly 20 lakh tourists who have visited here, he added.

He said that the department doesn’t have data of the past 75 years about tourists’ arrivals in Kashmir, but all “I can say is that it was bumper tourism season for Kashmir. I have spoken to a lot of hoteliers, travel agents and other people associated with tourism, everybody’s response was that it was a good season.”

He said that during the COVID-19, there was a drastic decline in tourist arrivals here because of the nationwide lockdown.

“Though we are dealing with it in a number of ways. This year, we have organised a number of tourism events and festivals here. We have more events in the pipeline. We will be organizing road shows and TTFs also. We are also trying to engage tourists in a number of ways like we have tried and installed zip lines in Chinar Bagh’s, one in Sonamarg and Pahalgam,” he said.

“A few months ago we initiated paragliding, then we also tried hot air balloon. We are exploring more areas through which we can engage more and more tourists. We try to relook at many more things so that more and more tourists will visit here,” he said.

On plans for winter season, the Director Tourism said that there are many plans in the pipeline.

“We are probably planning an ice city somewhere in the Gulmarg then we will be trying to open up other destinations which are our major priorities this year,” he said.

He said that apart from the winter carnival this year, we will try to open major destinations like Sonamarg, Doodhpathri and Yusmarg to ensure they remain functional and tourists have maximum options to visit the traditional places of Kashmir.

“We will be trying to diversify the experience for tourists,” he said.

Asked how many hoteliers the Tourism department has registered with, he said that they have more than 1500 hoteliers registered with them.

“The point is that all the hoteliers in whatever capacity are ready to be with us, especially in Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Gulmarg,” he said.

About Heli Tourism, he said that they are trying to look at Heli-Tourism and Heli-Skiing. “We will try to explore more possibilities and see at what destinations and places these things can be introduced. Once we will come up with the concrete thing, we will take actions accordingly,” he said.

He said that the Tourism department does not have any specific employment generation scheme but we are trying to promote entrepreneurship through home-stay, “we are trying that people get their home-stays and paying guests registered and once their guesthouses are registered they can become some sort of entrepreneurs in their own way where they can start something on their own being at home only.” (KNO)

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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