Snowfall raises hopes for tourist arrivals

Gulmarg: With upper reaches of the Valley receiving season’s first snowfall, tourist flow to Kashmir is likely to witness a slight increase.

Breath taking images of snow-covered tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Sonamarg are enticing locals as well as tourists from other parts of the country, raising hope for the people associated with the tourism industry in Kashmir that had seen a ‘very dull’ season this year.

“Not only are the arrivals showing upward trend, there is increase in fresh queries, most of which are getting converted into bookings,” said a tour operator.

“Business has picked up after November 14 and a good number of foreign tourists from Russia, Germany Switzerland and Australia as well as local tourists are staying in our hotel,” Rameez Ahmad, a hotelier from Gulmarg said.

“We are expecting more tourists in the coming days,” he added.

”Snowfall has attracted a good number of tourists to Gulmarg and every day the number of hotel bookings is increasing ,’’ another hotelier from Gulmarg told ‘Kashmir Vision’.

“With the onset of snowfall, we are expecting good business this winter, Altaf Rather, Manager of Hilltop Hotel, Gulmarg told ‘Kashmir Vision’.

Buoyed by the fresh enquiries, the tour operators as well as Hoteliers have started fresh discount schemes to attract more tourists this winter.

Travel Agency Association Kashmir, General Secretary Farooq Kuthu said that the fresh spell of snow and recent promotional campaign has definitely drawn attention of foreign as well as local tourists to Kashmir.

“Queries have seen a major spike and most of these queries have been confirmed into bookings. Snowfall has definitely helped in bringing more tourists to Kashmir and there has been an increase in queries and travel bookings” Kathu said.

Tourism was badly hit during the last two years because of unrest in the valley. However, aggressive promotional campaign by the Department of tourism has started  yielding some positive results.

“Tourist influx into valley has seen an increase, and in the coming month we can expect the numbers to go further up,” Director Tourism Mehmood Shah told ‘Kashmir Vision’.

Shah said that events are being planned on the eve of Christmas and new year in order to create attractions for tourists.

“We are also starting a winter carnival at Gulmarg Resort in January 2018 on last year’s pattern,” Shah added.

”Jammu & Kashmir Tourist Development Corporation has already announced a 15% rebate on accommodation to the tourists for a full year,” he added.

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