SRINAGAR: For the first time after the 2014-devastating floods, the tourism sector in Kashmir is back on track with more than 75,000 tourists visiting the Valley in January this year.
A senior officer wishing anonymity told Kashmir Reader that more than 75,000 tourists, including 1,440 foreigners, visited Kashmir last month compared to 17,000 tourists, including 1,200 foreigners, who had visited the Valley in January last year.
Secretary Tourism Farooq Ahmad Shah told Kashmir Reader that the winter tourism in 2015 was dead because of ‘negative perception of the September-2014 floods’ but 2016 is making a good beginning as the numbers are huge compared to last year.
“Compared to last January 2015, there is a surge in tourists this year. The floods had created a bad perception among tourists last year that was the reason for the decline. But with God’s help we have recovered fast,” he said adding, if there will be more snowfall in coming days, the flow of tourists will increase.
In 2015, a total of nine lakh tourists, including 28,954 foreigners have visited the Valley. These numbers, according to an official, are smaller compared to years before the 2014-floods.
“The tourists, who have been mostly visiting Gulmarg and Pahalgam, have come from European countries, followed by Canada,” Farooq added.
Following the 2014 floods, the state witnessed the decline in tourists last year. However, the state government led high-octane promotional events across India to attract tourists in the Valley. Former Chief Minister and late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who was himself holding the tourism ministry charge, had been inviting famous Indian actors including Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan to shoot films in the Valley. His last tourism promotional event was in Mumbai in November last year. “It was the tireless efforts of the department led by Mufti sahib that the tourism is reviving again. We will continue the same efforts to give the Valley a blooming 2016 tourism season,” Farooq added.