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58,000 and counting: Kashmir fully sold out as tourism witnesses dream start in 2021

File photo of stationed wooden boats (shikaras) on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir (KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar: Come Spring, Kashmir is fully sold out with hotels booked to the brim.
An official of the tourism department said they are preparing for bumper spring and summer seasons in Kashmir.

“Travel agents are receiving satisfactory queries from tour operators across the country. The bookings have surged since December. Hotels are 100% booked till April,” he said.

Post unlock, Kashmir has been one of the most sought-after destinations for backpackers.
Data reveals that tourism arrivals surged by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2021. As per the figures, more than 58,000 tourists visited the valley during the last three months surpassing the figure recorded during the same time last year.

Figures reveal that 13237 tourists including 89 foreigners visited the valley in December last year with most of them arriving to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

Around 19102 tourists including 60 foreigners visited Kashmir in January this year. In January last year, 4863 tourists had visited the valley.

February further saw a surge with footfall reaching 26064 including 154 foreigners. A total of 8182 tourists had visited the valley in February last year.

The last two years have been a loss-making period for the valley tourism sector given two back-to-back lockdowns.

Post unlock, domestic leisure travel has witnessed 30 percent growth for Quarter 1 (January-March) across the country. Kashmir has been at the top of tourists’ bucket list apart from Shimla, Rajasthan, Munnar, Coorg, Kannur and Andaman.

An official from the tourism department said they are expecting 10 lakh arrivals this year. “We have decided to promote every season by holding multiple festivals. Since the spring has arrived, cultural programmes and shows will begin to enthrall tourists,” he said.

The tourism sector contributes about 15 percent to the GDP of Jammu and Kashmir. The tourism sector generates over Rs 300 crore revenue and provides employment to about 5 lakh people in the valley.