Kashmir attracts tourists in off-season too

 Tourists seem undeterred by the prevalent chill in Kashmir as they are thronging the Valley in large numbers during the off-season.

An unprecedented rush in tourist arrivals was witnessed in the Valley in September and October, which are usually considered off-season for tourism in Kashmir, deputy director of tourism (publicity) Azmat Ali said.

“As many as 64,000 tourists visited Kashmir in the month of September and 69,000 in October,” Ali said. And it is not just domestic tourists, but foreigners as well who are visiting the Valley though in lesser, but significant numbers.

Ali put the number of foreign tourists visiting the Valley in September at 2,950 and in October at 2,864.

“The number of foreign tourists is less, but we expect the number to pick up in the coming months as, during winter season, more and more foreigners visit the Valley for adventure tourism,” he said.

On an average, he said, 2,100 tourists were visiting Kashmir daily. He said this year, around 11,65,000 tourists visited the Valley, 31,461 of them being foreigners. Popular destinations like Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg are attracting tourists in large numbers.

“It is unusual to see such a huge rush of tourists in this season. It is very good for the business,” Mohammad Abdullah, a houseboat owner said.

The tourists, besides being enchanted by the beauty of Kashmir, are also overwhelmed by people’s hospitality.

“Kashmir is the best place to spend your hard earned holidays. Not only is the place beautiful, but people here are very nice and helpful,” Yogeshwar Mehra, a tourist from Haryana said.

“We have enjoyed our stay here and can’t get enough of this place,” Mehra’s wife Jyoti said. Militancy factor has not had any effect on the plans of their family.

“Our friends and relatives had apprehensions about this visit, but we made them understand that it was worth taking the risk,” Jyoti said.

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