Srinagar Nov 5: Tourism may be backbone of Kashmir economy, but authorities are yet to explore hidden tourist destinations of the valley.
There are many existing tourist destinations that have become major tourist destinations. However, government has failed to develop infrastructure at unexplored tourist destinations or to bring them on the tourism map which could have helped the Kashmir’s economy to grow.
Bashir Ahmad, who runs a travel agency, said government has failed to develop unexplored tourist destinations.
“Our tourism has been restricted to Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Dal Lake and Mughal garden. But there are many tourism destinations which could have helped the tourism sector to grow,” he said.
Tourism sector has been badly hit since August 5 last year due to restrictions imposed by the government after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 and then COVID-19 lockdown.
As per figures of tourism department, 43000 tourists visited Kashmir between August and December last year. In 2020, only 19,000 tourists visited Kashmir till September this year.
Mohammad Shafi, a hotelier, said tourists mostly visit Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Mughal Gardens and Dal Lake.
He said infrastructure has to be created at unexplored destinations without harming the environment. “The facilities have also to be improved at the existing tourist destinations”.
Imran Ahmad, a hotelier said the tourism industry has an immense potential to grow in the valley. “We have natural beauty available here. We need to develop new destinations and make their promotion so that more and more tourists visit here,” he said.
“Infrastructure has to be created at unexplored destinations without harming the environment. The facilities have also to be improved at the existing tourist destinations,” he said.
He said government should not allow constructions of big hotels at new destinations by which the environment gets vandalized.
There are score of destinations that have either remained out of bounds for the tourists or very less tourists are visiting them due to lack of promotion.
Director Tourism, Kashmir, Nisar Wani also said there has been positive response from tourists in last few weeks.
“We are receiving positive feedback from different states and many people want to visit the valley especially during winters,” he said. He said new tourist destinations are also being developed. (KINS)