It’s boom time in Kashmir
Nisar Ahmad, a boatman in Dal lake area in Srinagar, is happy these days. This is because the tourists from different parts of the country have started visiting Kashmir Valley. ?Arrival of visitors is surely a very positive sign. With situation hopefully remaining peaceful, we are going to have a good tourist season this year,? he said.
Last year due to the civilian unrest, which saw the death of 113 persons in police and security forces actions, the tourist flow was adversely affected. As against the expected 14 lakh tourists only half of them visited the valley because of the prevailing conditions. However, the expectations of the people, associated with tourism are high this time.
Though expected arrivals for this year has been scaled down, the people in the tourism industry feel, it will not be another bad year for them. ?Surely we are expecting 12 lakh visitors this year. But much will depend upon the situation. Thankfully, there are good indications right now about the situation remaining peaceful,? said Mohammad Tanveer, an official in tourism department.
These days on the busy Residency Road near Lal Chowk, the tourists can be seen busy in shopping spree during evening hours. Boulevard Road along the banks of the Dal Lake is also buzzing with a lot of activity in the evenings. The famous tourist spots like Gulmarg and Pahalgam continue to remain sought-after places among tourists. As the mercury level is rising in different parts of the country, more tourists are expected to reach Kashmir, popularly described as heaven on earth.
Tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir generates revenue of more than Rs 3,000 crore and provides employment to five lakh people. It is not only the last year?s unrest that hit the tourism but also the 21-year-long militancy that badly affected this sector. Only 27,000 visitors visited the Valley in 2002 but the numbers crossed over six lakh in 2005.
While the number of tourist arrival kept fluctuating in Kashmir, the religious tourism in Jammu region gained momentum. The number of pilgrims for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine almost doubled from 44 lakh in 2002 to over 82 lakh last year.
Unlike the two regions of the state, Kashmir and Jammu, the third region Ladakh receives lesser number of tourists. However, it is gaining importance as an international tourist destination with the passage of time. Over 30,000 foreign tourists visited Ladakh in 2009.
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Source: Zahoor Malik (2013). It’s boom time in Kashmir, Deccan Herald?http://www.deccanherald.com/content/154167/its-boom-time-kashmir.html published May 26, 2013. Viewed May 27, 2013,