Minus the snow, New Year festivity minimal this time

Even as Kashmir is going through a prolonged dry spell with life limping back to the usual after the summer unrest, there will be no major New Year celebrations in the Valley.
New Year revellers along with tourists usually celebrate the occasion at Gulmarg but the North Kashmir ski resort is awaiting snowfall. A few high-end hotels will be holding low-profile private parties and events on New Year’s Eve but most of the other hotels have decided to give the celebrations a miss.
“There will be no New Year gala at Gulmarg this time. Not many tourists have arrived in Kashmir this time and therefore we are not holding any event. However, we will be holding a snow festival from January 22 provided we receive snowfall,” said a senior official of the Tourism Department, Kashmir.
He said they had decided to go slow and then gradually start holding major tourist-related events after snowfall as the situation in the Valley was slowly improving. The Meteorological Department has forecast snow in the Valley on January 4.
Though Kashmir usually bustles with tourists at this time of the year, the sector had taken a hit during the unrest sparked by the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
The Tourism Department recently hosted a ‘Fam Tour’ for leading tour operators of the country and they had given the assurance that tourists would start coming back in large numbers from next year.
A majority of the locals too do not have any plans for celebrating the arrival of New Year. “The New Year festivity has never been a major event for an average Kashmiri. At most, we watch television on New Year’s Eve and most of the people go to bed early due to the cold weather. While the situation is not completely normal yet, otherwise too very few people go to hotels or resorts to celebrate New Year,” said Arif Ahmad, a businessman.
J&K Hoteliers Club chairman Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya too said the hoteliers had mostly decided to remain low key on New Year’s Eve. “We are going silent. There will be no major parties in hotels,” he said. However, a handful of high-end hotels will be holding private New Year parties for in-house and selected guests.

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