Gulmarg: Hundreds of tourists from across the country have arrived in world famous ski resort of Gulmarg to celebrate New Year amid fresh snowfall.
People associated with tourism industry say that other tourist destinations in the valley have also witnessed a good number of hotel bookings.
A hotelier in Gulmarg said that almost all the hotels as well as the tourist huts in this resort are booked till January 5. “The tourists from across the country are rushing towards the ski resort in north Kashmir on the New Year’s Eve,” he said.
He said the tourist arrivals started to pick up from December 23 in view of Christmas celebrations. “They (tourists) later stayed put to celebrate New Year in Kashmir,” he said.
He said tourists’ returning to Kashmir is a good omen. “We are hoping that the revival of the tourism industry will help us recover from the losses which we have suffered during the past one and half-years,” he said.
“Our hotels have been vacant for nearly two years now. Let’s hope COVID vaccine will end the pandemic and normalcy will return,” the hotelier added.
A restaurant owner said that during the past two years, many eateries have winded up the operations and hundreds of people have been rendered jobless. “If the COVID goes, the situation will improve. The restaurants that have downed their shutters may once again come back to life. Our industry has been hit very badly. We are hoping it gets revived,” he added.
Mesmerized by the beauty of Gulmarg, a tourist from Bangalore told UNI that he has never seen such an amazing place in his entire life. “Gulmarg is known for its beauty. But in winter the ski resort is full of adventure sports lovers… I have been making plans for many years to visit the ski resort to experience the adrenaline rush as I’m an adventure sports lover,” he added.
Another tourist said that he had visited Gulmarg in 1982 and since then a lot has changed. “In 1982 when I visited Gulmarg, there were few huts and hardly any shops, but now the resort has been developed like a paradise on earth,” he said.
A senior official of Tourism department told UNI that in order to make hassle free journey to Gulmarg, government has put in various measures en-route to ski-resort.
He said that the ski resort has received a good number of tourists and the department is hoping that the number of tourists visiting other parts of the valley will also increase in coming days.
A travel agent, who organizes package tours for the tourists, said, “During all these months we have been requesting the government to come for our rescue by providing us some relief. Unfortunately, nothing was done to help us so that we could survive.”
“During the past few weeks we have been receiving many enquiries and it seems that tourists want to visit the valley. Signs of revival are there but it can take some more time. Another thing that COVID has taught is that we cannot depend on anyone for help. We have to help ourselves to stand on our own feet,” he added.