SRI NAGAR: The tourism sector, the backbone of Kashmir’s economy, has finally come back to life with tourists thronging the Valley this Christmas. Months of shutdown, post abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, had crippled the tourism sector in the Union Territory. The ski resort of Gulmarg, known for its ski slopes, was abuzz with domestic and foreign tourists on Wednesday. All hotels are booked till New Year.
“It is nice to see tourists returning to Gulmarg. We hope this trend continues. All slopes in Gulmarg are covered with snow, we hope ski lovers visit in large numbers,” said a Gulmarg hotelier, Zahoor Ahmad.
Assistant director tourism, Gulmarg, Nasir Mehmood said there is good tourist footfall this Christmas. He said although the numbers are less than those previous years, the trend is encouraging. “There is around 70 per cent occupancy in Gulmarg hotels on Wednesday,” he said, adding that they are receiving booking enquires for January and February. He confirmed that all Gulmarg resorts are booking for New Year.
Aqib Chaya, a hotelier in Gulmarg and general secretary of J&K Hoteliers club Gulmarg chapter, said bookings have increased in Gulmarg and enquiries are picking up. “Tourists are returning to Gulmarg and its good news,” said a tour operator Javed Ahmad.
A Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries report had said that the Valley had witnessed financial losses to the tune of `17,800 crore in the first 120 days of uncertainty triggered by the abrogation of Article 370. The tourism sector had taken the biggest cumulative hit of `9,191 crore. Delhi-based Amit Kapoor, who works for an airline, said he found Gulmarg the most accessible ski resort in the world. “After boarding a flight from Delhi, Gulmarg is just a three-hour journey,” said Kapoor.