SRINAGAR: According to stakeholders and the Kashmir Tourism Department, the current autumn season will prove to be a golden season for the tourism industry here. The J&K Tourism Department issued figures on Thursday which show that 1.62 crore tourists visited J&K this year so far. In October according to hoteliers and houseboat owners, they have 100% bookings. “The way we are getting tourists here in the autumn season so far, we are expecting the same quantum of tourist rush for the winter season too,” said Suhaib Iqbal Mattoo who runs a houseboat in Dal Lake. Like Suhaib, many other houseboat owners and hoteliers said that this year has been the peak season of tourism after decades of slump.
The J&K government has taken a slew of measures, especially in the backdrop of Covid pandemic restrictions on tourists, so that the industry is revived in Jammu and Kashmir. Due to policy interventions in Jammu and Kashmir, after the pandemic, many sections of society connected with the tourist trade were provided financial support by the authorities. Similarly, the J&K administration has laid down a comprehensive mechanism to provide facilities in Kashmir valley to corporate golfers. “If we are able to tap the potential of corporate golfers in Kashmir valley, it would be a huge boost to tourism here,” a senior tourism officer told this newspaper. According to figures released by the tourism department on Thursday, “A record-breaking 20.5 lakh tourists, including 3.65 lakh Amarnath yatris, visited Kashmir in the first eight months of this year, drawing visitors from all over the nation to the gorgeous and picturesque Valley. The 2 million tourists represent an all-time high tourist footfall for Kashmir valley. The tourist sites like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonamarg as well as all hotels and guesthouses in Srinagar experienced 100% occupancy.”
Similarly, 75 offbeat tourist destinations which were recently brought on a tourism map are picking up pace as many tourists have enjoyed staying in the villages with the locals. The biggest push to the tourism industry will come from the film shooting crews who are seeking permission to shoot in Kashmir. The figures released by the tourism department said that 140 shooting permissions for films and web-series have been issued so far. The government is going to launch a film studio with state-of-art facilities on the outskirts of Srinagar soon.
According to stakeholders of the tourism industry in Kashmir, the ongoing autumn season is proving golden for them as the mighty Chinar trees have started shedding their gold leaves all around the gardens and streets of Kashmir.