Winter tourism

In recent weeks, tourists have flocked in significant numbers to famous resorts like Gulmarg in Kashmir Valley.

According to figures shared by officials, tourist arrivals into Kashmir in November 2021 were way higher than the 6,327 arrivals recorded in 2020 and 12,086 in 2019. The figure this November was even higher than the figure for the same month prior to abrogation of Article 370, with 33,720 tourist arrivals having been recorded in the Valley in 2018, 1.12 lakh in 2017, 23,569 in 2016 and 64,778 in 2015.

The tourism department has taken several measures to ensure that the fear of the Covid-19 contagion doesn’t scare away the visitors. As per government data, so far most of the Valley’s tourism service providers have been vaccinated and are safe to welcome travellers from far and wide. Over the last several months, the Government has also been in the process of identifying new tourist destinations to accommodate more tourists and offer them more places to visit.

The administration has now been doing its best to push tourism recovery. In J&K budget 2021-2022, Rs 1,000 crore shall be taken up for development of tourism infrastructure. Officials said the budget

for tourism and culture was Rs 283 crore in 2020-2021 it is Rs 780 crore this financial year. Various plans have been formulated recently.

The plan needed to be formulated at an earliest and stakeholders should be involved in preparations for a better outcome.   There is also a need to develop various tourist circuits while putting special focus on winter tourism, adventure tourism, trekking activities, pilgrimage sites, water sports and other popular ventures.

The recovery in the tourism sector is nascent. Low wage workers like ponywallas, tourist guides, cab drivers, hotel staff and boatmen etc need continuous support.

The winter and the snow at tourist resorts have generated renewed hope. Tourism has picked up and it will help in part amid continuing ban on international travel. Snowfalls that would soon become the order of the day will give further fillip to the arrivals. One benefit of a snow-bound winter has been that there is a sudden bump in the arrival of tourists and efforts should be made to keep flow flowing.  Snow is a novelty for many and efforts should be made to attract more and more such people.

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