Snowfall in Kashmir brings cheers to tourists, local tourism players
Srinagar: Snowfall in Kashmir has brought cheers to the tourism sector, sparking joy among tourists and the local people linked with the tourism industry.
The industry was feeling battered over the last couple of months in the absence of a good snowfall, with many intending tourists cancelling their bookings and tour operators receiving little to no queries.
The tourist arrivals to the valley, which usually witnesses a higher footfall, especially at resorts like Gulmarg, fell in the absence of snow – a cause of worry for the tourism stakeholders in the valley.
However, the snowfall at the fag-end of Chilla-i-Kalan — a 40-day harsh winter period when the chances of snowfall are maximum and most frequent – has brought cheers to both the tourists as well as the tourism players.
Hundreds of tourists, including children, have been enjoying the snowfall at Gulmarg and Sonamarg resorts.
“We had booked tickets for January 23, but we postponed our journey after checking the forecast. We arrived on January 25 and were lucky to see the snowfall. We experienced snowfall first in Sonamarg and then in Gulmarg as well. We are so thrilled to be here,” Aninda and Deotima, a tourist couple from Kolkata, said at Gulmarg.
They said Kashmir really looks like a paradise after snowfall.
Mohammad Imran, a tourist from Nagpur in Maharashtra said he returned to the Gulmarg resort again after the snowfall.
“Two days back, there was nothing and the ground looked empty. By the grace of God, now there is snow and we feel great to be here… When we heard there was snowfall in Gulmarg, we came back from Srinagar,” he said.
Aryan, a young tourist from Bangalore who has come to Kashmir with his parents and sister, said it was a great feeling. “It feels so good. It looks like heaven,” he said, enjoying the snowfall.
Ankit Makane, a part of a 15-member tourist group from Mumbai, enjoyed playing in the snow at Sonamarg. “It feels truly and literally like heaven. Kashmir is so beautiful and the people here are really amazing. We enjoyed a lot,” he said.
It is not only the tourists who are cheered up, the snowfall has sparked joy among the local tourism players as well. “We thank God for the snow. We feel very happy because it will not only increase tourism, but it is vital for the sustenance,” Parvaiz Ahmad, a local tourism service provider in Gulmarg, said.
Another stakeholder, Abdul Rashid, said the livelihoods of private service providers were affected due to a prolonged dry spell over the last two months, but the snowfall has come as a blessing.
“For the past two months, there was not much work. With the snowfall, the tourist arrivals have increased and the snow-related activities have started,” Rashid said.
In the absence of snowfall at popular tourist spots like Sonamarg and Gulmarg, the tourists used to make a beeline to places like Sinthan Top connecting Anantnag district with Kishtwar which remains covered under snow for most of the year.
Meanwhile, authorities have issued advisories to tourists and locals visiting places like Sonamarg and Gulmarg.
They have said only 4X4 vehicles and those with anti-skid chains would be allowed to travel towards Gulmarg and Sonamarg due to slippery conditions in the wake of snowfall.
The Meteorological Department has forecast a possibility of light to moderate rain or snow at many places of the Union Territory with chances of heavy snowfall over a few higher reaches like Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag districts over the next two days.