Tourists thronging Gulmarg for new year celebrations

After witnessing little to no visitors for more than a year now, tourism players in Kashmir at the end of 2017 have got a reason to cheer. Hotels in Gulmarg are jam-packed, as tourists from across the country are rushing towards this famous ski resort in north Kashmir on the New Year’s Eve.
People associated with travel trade say other tourist destination in Kashmir have also witnessed a good number of hotel bookings. They say tourist arrivals started to pickup from December 23 to celebrate Christmas here and later stayed put to ring in the New Year from Kashmir.
Hundreds of tourists and locals from various areas of Jammu and Kashmir and other states of India are thronging Gulmarg for New Year celebrations and to enjoy snow sports, skiing etc. Tourism department organises various events and adventure sports activities at Gulmarg in during winter to attract visitors.
“The snow is the only thing during winters which attract tourists, especially skiing lovers to visit Gulmarg,” said a senior tourism department official, adding, “In order to make hassle free journey to Gulmarg, government has put in various measures en route to ski-resort.”
Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Hotelier’s Club, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya said tourist influx in the eve of New Year has picked up, which is a good sign for the tourism sector of Kashmir.
“Traditionally number of arrivals pick up in the last week of the year as Christmas and new year celebrations fall in during that period,” Chaya said adding that hotels in the tourism destinations are receiving good number of bookings.
“We are hopeful this trend continues as our tourism has faced worst few years due to lesser influx of visitors,” said Chaya who is chairman of Mumtaz Group of Hotels.
President Pahalgam Hotelier’s Association, Asif Burza also expressed happiness over good number of bookings being recorded ahead of New Year’s celebration.
“There are two factors which led to good number of bookings and arrivals. First are promotional activities being organized by tourism players and the government. Production of tourism promotion videos create positive buzz among intending visitors and the second factor was that tourists who visited Kashmir went back satisfied with situation contrary to what national media reports about the Valley,” Burza said.
“We are hopeful of a good season as tourism players badly need it. Last two years have been distressing for tourism sector,” he said, adding, “there is need to counter negative perception about Kashmir being propagated by certain elements.”
General Secretary, Travel Agents society of Kashmir, Athar Yameen said that they have received good number of bookings till first week of January.
“Hotels are jam packed in Gulmarg, also the influx to Srinagar has witnessed spurt since January 23,” he said adding that “ traditionally these two weeks i.e. last week of December and first week of January are jam-packed.”

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