Srinagar: Although the delay in snowfall has slowed down arrival of tourists in the Valley this winter, the tourism department expects a record tourist footfall this year.
Director tourism Talat Parvez said the department was targeting 15 lakh arrivals, two lakh more than the last year’s figure, in 2015. In 2014, autumn arrivals were massively hit because of the devastating flood.
To attract more tourists, the department will organise festivals and celebrations in February and March, Talat said.
“We had ‘Jashn-e-Chilai Kalan’ earlier. We’ll have more events in the coming days. Activities like these will definitely remove the doubts in the minds of people,” he said.
Winter tourists and skiers, who were expected to arrive in the first two weeks of January and for whom the snow-bound Gulmarg is a major attraction, have postponed their programme as they are awaiting snowfall, Talat said.
“Some tourists are coming but most of them are deferring their visit. But they definitely will come. We do get tourists normally from second week of January,” said Talat, after throwing open Gallerie One, the first ever contemporary Arts and Research Centre for artists and art lovers at the reconstructed Tourist Reception Centre building here Monday.
The Gallerie One, Talat said, is a space where tourists can see art and intellectual activities of Kashmiris. Various forms of art—emulsion, interpretive, etc—have been put on display at the gallery.
“It is the intellectual character of Kashmir that has been put on display,” Talat said.
The gallery spread over 5000 square feet is a joint effort of the tourism department and Kashmir Art Quest, a collective of Valley-based and non-local artists.
“This is a landmark event in the establishment of creative and cultural infrastructure in Kashmir, which will initiate the exploration of the creative economy in Kashmir. Gallerie One is a multi-disciplinary initiative which offers an art gallery, a research centre, a digital media lab, a library and an archiving and cataloging centre,” Syed Mujtaba Rizvi, founder and CEO of Gallerie One, told Kashmir Reader.
He said the centre will link up with institutions around the world to boost the arts, creative and cultural entrepreneurship, tourism, and promotion of brand Kashmir around the world.
The gallery will organise curated shows throughout the year,” he added.