Kashmir expects more tourist arrivals this year

KASMEERSRINAGAR: The Kashmir Valley witnessed two peaceful years in 2011 and 2012, reaping the benefits in terms of record breaking tourist arrivals and the hopes were that this year will be even better.

The year began on expected lines as more than 70,000 tourists visited Kashmir in the month of January, a period considered to be lean in terms of tourism.A record number of tourists – 14 lakh – visited the Valley in 2012, making it the successful year in the tourism history of the state.

The businesses were booming. The local industries tourism, handicrafts, and horticulture all had a wonderful year. And with many countries withdrawing or modifying their adverse travel advisories, the authorities, business houses and general public alike had high hopes for 2013.
However, 17 days into March this year, the Valley has seen unprecedented disturbances and remaining under strikes and curfews for 12 days out of 17, the business has been “almost dead”.
Since the execution of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru on February 9, Kashmir has seen around 30 days of strikes and curfews.
“About 35 lakh people are associated with the trade and manufacture business here and that everyone is suffering losses to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees,” President, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Mohammad Yasin Khan told PTI.
“On an average, Kashmir suffers a loss of around Rs 85100 crore a day, whenever there is a strike or curfew,” Khan said.
Meanwhile, tourism players in the Valley also narrated the same tale. There have been 30-40 per cent cancellations in bookings from tourists belonging to various states of the country.
“There were pre-bookings in December and January for the months of February and March, but 3040 per cent of those bookings have been cancelled,” president, Travel Agents’ Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Rouf Tramboo told PTI.
“Last year, there was cent per cent occupancy in hotels across the Valley in the months of March, April and June which is considered as the main tourist season. However, 30 to 40 per cent of the bookings for these months have already been cancelled,” he said, in a dejecting voice.
However, tourism authorities are still optimistic and bank upon the “love for Kashmir” the tourists have.
“We are optimistic about 2013. We had a bumper tourist season last year with a record 14 lakh tourists visiting Kashmir and we hope to improve the figure this year,” Director, Tourism Kashmir, Talat Pervez told PTI.
In January last year, the number of tourists visiting the Valley was around 30,000, with 2,894 among them foreign tourists. The same month this year saw more than a double-fold increase in the tourist arrivals at 70,026 with 1,608 foreigners.
While February last year saw the number of domestic tourists at 23,226, this year the number is 31,612, the figures provided by the Tourism Department said.
Similarly, the number of foreign tourists visiting the Kashmir in February 2012 was 2,911, while this year as many as 3,053 foreigners visited the Valley.
In the first week of March 2012, 6,941 domestic and 795 foreign tourists visited the region, while 3,053 and 459 domestic and foreign tourists respectively visited Kashmir in the first week of March this year, showing a decline in the numbers.
The second week of March 2013 also shows a slight decline in the numbers as compared to the corresponding time last year. While 9,254 domestic and 748 foreign tourists visited the Valley in the same period last year, the number stands at 7,994 domestic and 663 foreign this year.
Pervez said the months of January, February and March are considered as lean seasons for tourism in Kashmir and expressed hope the number would go up in the months of April, May and June.
“We are not much worried about the numbers for the months of January, February and March. These are lean months and even then the situation is not that bad. The arrival is as per routine. April and May hold the key and as long as the situation remains peaceful, we are not worried,” he said.
The director said the tourists love Kashmir and he sees the numbers improving this year.
“People forget the past and proceed ahead. We had very good two years of tourism in 2011 and 2012 after so many years of violence. If the situation does not get worse, then we hope to achieve a 10-12 per cent growth in the sector this year,” he said. -PTI

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!