SRI NAGAR: Tourism marked a turnaround in Kashmir Valley with hospitality managers reporting over 80% occupancy on New Year’s day on Wednesday. With domestic and foreign tourists joined by Kashmiris making a beeline to the ski resorts at Gulmarg in North Kashmir, hopes of the revival of the hotel sector, which has stagnated since August when the special status was abrogated, looked bright. The Himalayan slopes at Gulmarg are laden with snow, attracting travellers and locals alike and all local hotels reported advance bookings for new year. President of J&K Hoteliers Club Gulmarg chapter, Mushtaq Chaya said his hotel witnessed 60-70% occupancy. Aqil Neudo, owner of Neudo hotel, said he registered 50% occupancy with a majority being domestic tourists from Maharashtra.
Aqil said although tourist inflow to Gulmarg in winter this year has been low as compared to previous years but still return of tourists to Valley is encouraging. “It is a good sign. At least domestic tourists are returning. It is very positive sign,” he said. Hoteliers, however, said internet blockade has dampened the spirits of travellers. Nasir Mehmood, Assistant Director Tourism Gulmarg said “Gulmarg was fully packed. The occupancy in hotels was about 98% as all the rooms were occupied. We had some people, who spend the night in open because all hotels were booked,” he said. According to officials, of the 100% occupancy, 60% were locals, 30% domestic tourists and 10% foreigners.