- Web Master
- November 10, 2023
J&K tourism department data says over 3.5 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir in the last three months. This number is expected to go up in the coming months.
Srinagar: Serpentine queues at the airport’s baggage claim, families waiting at Dal Lake to hop onto a shikara, couples posing in traditional Kashmiri attire at Nishat Bagh, a bustling Lal Chowk, packed restaurants, fully booked hotels — the Kashmir Valley is seeing a rush of tourists, with local authorities describing it as the biggest footfall in 10 years.
Despite apprehensions about the security situation, for many tourists, their first visit to the Valley is a “dream come true”. These tourists have flocked to the Valley in groups, along with their families, from across the country.
This is a dream. Are we really in Kashmir?” said Praveena Darshan from Mumbai, posing in front of the clock tower at Lal Chowk. “It is like a dream come true. I always wanted to visit Kashmir and, finally, we mustered the courage to do so. This was the best decision ever. This is heaven on earth,” she said. “Moreover, so much security around is very reassuring. We feel safe.”
According to data available with the J&K tourism department, over 3.5 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir in the last three months. This number is expected to go up in the coming months. As many as 6.6 lakh tourists from across the country visited the Valley in 2021, a considerable increase from 41,000 in 2020.
J&K has been witnessing a considerable decline in tourist footfall since 2019, following the scrapping of Article 370. The decline was further accelerated by Covid restrictions, which dealt another blow to the Valley’s bustling tourism industry.
“We have not seen such a footfall in the last 10 years, since 2012. Our data shows that this has been a bumper season for us,” said Dr G.N. Itoo, Director of Kashmir Tourism.
“Every season we get around 50,000 tourists on average, and now, in just three months, we have over 3 lakh. People are now confident that it is safe to travel to Kashmir,” he added. “Our initiatives for boosting tourism have borne fruit. The local traders, businessmen who depend on tourism, and Kashmir’s economy, will get a big boost.”