Srinagar, Dec 30: Known for its snow-capped mountains, fast-flowing rivers, Mughal gardens, Alpine meadows and houseboats in world famous Dal Lake, Kashmir valley has witnessed an all time high tourist flow with 2285747 Tourists visiting the valley this year.
Officials said that tourists from all parts of the world have been visiting J&K this year. Hoteliers, houseboat owners, taxi and shikara operators, and restaurateurs are pleased to see the overwhelming response since it has boosted their revenues.
According to data shared by the tourism department of Kashmir, 19379 foreign tourists among 2285747 visitors visited the Kashmir Valley in the ongoing year.
The data shared by them also revealed that the month of May witnessed the highest number of tourists here. it said, "62645 tourists visited Kashmir in January, 100509 in February, 180171 in March, 272377 in April, 375021 in May, 333589 in June, 207376 in July, 154919 in August, 125252 in September, 183208 in October, 158778 in November, and 131902 in December, up until December 27 of this year." data revealed.
The month of August saw the highest number of foreign tourists (3,140). In September, 250 foreign tourists also visited Kashmir.
"If we compare the figures for the past 10 years, the Valley is recording the highest tourist footfall this year. Keeping in view the Covid-19 pandemic situation, we have done rigorous campaigning for tourism. We also used social media platforms." officials said.
Popular tourist spots like Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg had their resorts and guesthouses running with 100 percent occupancy.
According to the officials, the government has made on-arrival visas available for some countries, including Malaysia and the easily accessible visas will increase foot traffic.
As per the top tourism official in Kashmir, they are expecting a huge footfall of foreign tourists on the eve of the new year. "As earlier, these foreign "Tourists were facing some problems while availing the visa," he said.
To make this winter vibrant, the tourism department is also organising several programmes at different tourist destinations and the department has thrown several winter destinations open this year.
This year, the tourism industry will also host various ski courses at various locations and install a ski lift at Sonamarg in central Kashmir. In addition, the department is also organising the winter carnival at Pahalgam and other locations.
“The rush in Srinagar will continue till the onset of harsh winters. However, many people come just to see snowfall and Gulmarg resorts are completely occupied and pre booked .
A houseboat owner at Dal Lake said “It is the first time we are seeing such a tourist season in the Valley. There was consistent tourist inflow in the Valley right from January to December.”
"The figure is at an all time high. 20 or 22 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir valley before." an official said.