First snow fall of the season spur tourist inflow to Kashmir

Kashmir tourism industry, which was grim due to the decline in tourist arrivals last year is considering the snowfall on Wednesday as a possibility for a surge in tourist inflow.

While tourists in large numbers thronged Gulmarg to celebrate New Year and Christmas recently, Wednesday’s snowfall has spread optimism among tourism industry for seasons ahead.

Hotel bookings in Greater Kashmir, which have picked up since Christmas and New Year holidays, are expected to go further up in coming days.

It is expected that tourists who are interested in snowboarding, heli-skiing and ice-skiing will flow to Kashmir to enjoy the first snowfall of the season.

Heli Skiing

PHD Chamber (Kashmir chapter) chairman Mushtaq Chaya told Greater Kashmir that tourist bookings, which have picked up since Christmas and New Year holidays, are expected to go further up in coming days.

“In order to promote Kashmir, a road-show event will be held by J&K Hoteliers Club in Mumbai on January 24”, said Mushtaq Chaya, Chairman, PHD Chamber (Kashmir Chapter)

“Governor’s advisor will be leading the promotional event to spread a positive word about Kashmir,” added Chaya.

“We had more than 24,500 tourists and locals board the Gondola in December 2018 which is almost 40 per cent more than the number of passengers we had in December 2017. This helped us generate Rs 2.16 crore revenue in this most-brisk tourism month of the year,” said Shamim Wani, managing director J&K State Cable Car Corporation.

He said in 2018, 1.60 lakh passengers took a ride on Gondola, which was 8000 more footfalls than those witnessed in 2017.

First snowfall of this year has also resulted in increased tour inquires for Pahalgam. Hotelier Asif Burza said with special events lined up, tourist footfall to Pahalgam is also expected to witness an increase.

“Now perception about Pahalgam is changing fast as it is no more a one season place. The winter rush might not be as much as Gulmarg but holidaymakers are visiting Pahalgam in good numbers,” Burza said.

Pahalgam during Winter

“Less snowfall last year was a bit of a dampener but we hope there is abundant snow this year to attract visitors in large numbers,” said Burza.

Tour operator Nasir Shah said Wednesday’s snowfall in higher reaches will send across a positive message outside the Valley.

“We have promotional activities lined-up at Ahmadabad, Pune, Indore, Raipur, Nagpur, Mumbai, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. With these promotions we expect better footfall for spring and summer of 2019,” said Shah.