Despite multiple lockdowns since August 2019, the tourism industry in Kashmir is showing signs of revival with the Valley recording a tourist footfall of 6.65 lakh in 2021.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Valley suffered huge losses in the past two consecutive tourism seasons. The tourism season was also badly hit after a lockdown was imposed when the Centre revoked the former state’s special status under Article 370 in August 2019.
Official figures reveal that compared to 4.1 lakh tourist arrivals in 2020, the Valley recorded 6.65 lakh tourists last year which was the highest in the last seven years. The tourist arrivals started picking up after the second wave of Covid-19 waned in July 2021.
Ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir has been the most sought after destination for the tourists during the winter season with igloo cafe, claimed to be the world’s largest and a snow sculpture of Taj Mahal becoming the latest attraction for the visitors.
A senior official of the Tourism Department said that 2021 witnessed a large footfall of tourists; both domestic as well as foreigners due to positive and constructive interventions of the Central government in consonance with the J&K government. He said the initiatives were undertaken to rejuvenate the dwindling economic landscape of the union territory which was affected due to the multiple lockdowns since
In one such major intervention, the Centre made a record budget allocation of Rs 786 crore for the tourism sector in J&J which is Rs 509 crore higher than the last budgetary allocation.
In a mega push to promote ecotourism in the UT, the government has also approved the development of seven new trekking routes in various wildlife-protected areas.
Similarly, under 'Mission Youth', a 'Tourist Village Network' programme has been launched to ensure balanced and equitable development of the sector across the UT. The initiative is also aimed at promoting film shootings and offering financial aid to the villages for their sustainable development.
Seeing a huge rush over the past few months, the Tourism Department is gearing up for the coming seasons as the famous Tulip Garden in Srinagar is being thrown open in the last week of March.
“As Covid-19 wave has settled down, we are expecting the tourist flow to go up in coming weeks. The opening of Tulip Garden later in March will give a new experience to the tourists in the spring season and we are eagerly waiting for it,” said Athar Qadri, a tour operator.
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