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Foreign skiers bat for lifting negative travel advisories to Kashmir

The J&K government hopes that the successful G-20 Tourism Working Group (TWG) meeting held in Srinagar in May last year, may prove a game changer as the countries continuing with its negative travel advisories are expected to lift the ban and allow its citizens to visit Kashmir.
Last Updated 25 February 2024, 11:03 IST

Srinagar: Kashmir, renowned for its unparalleled beauty, breathtaking landscape, abundant lakes and world-class skiing terrain, has long grappled with negative travel advisories, deterring international visitors due to security concerns.

However, the recent rendezvous of foreign skiers in ski-resort Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramulla town has sparked a narrative of hope and renewal. Buoyed by their recent beautiful experience, the foreign skiers have become vocal advocates for the lifting of negative travel advisories that have cast a shadow over Kashmir and Gulmarg for far too long.

Their impassioned pleas resonate not only with fellow adventurers but also with foreign tourists and authorities alike, who yearn for the revitalization of tourism in the region.

Isamu, a skier from Japan, said he has travelled to New Zealand, Canada, United States and France in the past over two decades, but “I am hugely impressed by the beauty of Gulmarg.”

“This place is no less than a heaven. I will tell my friends in Japan to visit Kashmir in large numbers. It’s a safe place and beautiful as well. People from the US and France should also come here,” he said.

Praising the hospitality of locals, Isamu said people in Kashmir are so caring “while in other parts of the world, nobody cares so much for tourists.”

Another Japanese skier, Yamamoto said the altitude of slopes, snow accumulation, tracks and huge alpine trees in Gulmarg give a feeling of paradise.

On negative travel advisories imposed by some Western countries that prevent its citizens from visiting Kashmir, he said, “Negative travel advisories must go now and people from all over the world must visit Kashmir and Gulmarg to enjoy the snow. If one wants to see nature so closely, Gulmarg is the best place.”

A travel advisory by the US states that terrorist attacks and violent civil unrest are possible in Jammu and Kashmir and has asked its citizens to avoid all travel to the Union Territory (with the exception of visits to the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh). Similar advisories have been issued by European countries as well for the citizens.

The J&K government hopes that the successful G-20 Tourism Working Group (TWG) meeting held in Srinagar in May last year, may prove a game changer as the countries continuing with its negative travel advisories are expected to lift the ban and allow its citizens to visit Kashmir.

Last year, as per official figures, 55,000 foreign tourists visited Kashmir and the administration believes it was the directed outcome of the G-20 TWG meeting in Kashmir.

A skier from Russia believes that better tourist infrastructure will attract travelers from abroad in huge numbers to Kashmir. “Borders are just a name for those who love to travel. I have been to 20 countries in the past 20 years. People across the globe must visit Kashmir and Gulmarg, explore its beauty and enjoy skiing and other adventure sports here. But infrastructure needs to be improved,” he said.

The advocacy of foreign skiers underscores a collective belief in Gulmarg's ability to transcend geopolitical barriers and emerge as a beacon of unity and understanding.

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(Published 25 February 2024, 11:03 IST)

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