Srinagar: The government has launched an aggressive promotional blitzkrieg to sell Kashmir as a niche tourist destination and increase footfalls in autumn and winter.
Officials said the programmes will take off in October and will continue till March to attract tourists.
Tourism festivals are planned in different destinations to increase footfalls. This year, the festivals are designed in such a manner that tourists will find something different that will make their holidays memorable.
Autumn festival will be organized in Sonamarg and it will be followed by Pahalgam winter festival, Saffron festival, Gulmarg Snow festival Christmas, New Year and winter carnival are also planned.
“Khadinyar Cultural Festival and Houseboat festivals will be the new additions this year. Plus in Jammu Basholi Art Festival, Mata Vaishno Devi Sangeet Samelan, Kishtwar Saffron Plucking Festival, and Suchetgarh Seema Darshan will also follow. `Aatish-e-Chinar’ will be another attraction this autumn,” an official said.
The department this year is also eyeing promoting new destinations in Kashmir. “These include Hokersar, Parihaspora, Gohan, Waderbala, Nowgam Mawar- Lolab in Kupwara, Chari-Sharief-Doodhpathri-Yousmarg in Budgam and Saderkoot Payeen- Watlab in Bandipora,” the official said.
The department has completed the vaccination of all tourism stakeholders in the valley. “It took us some time to immunize people associated with tourism. They include hotel staff, shikarawalas, travel agents, and cab drivers,” an official said.
After a sudden drop in tourist numbers, the arrivals have started picking up. The bookings for the autumn season have surged by 30 percent.
“Since festive season is starting, people are really interested to spend their vacations in Kashmir. Travel agents are witnessing a spike in bookings for the last few weeks. We expect good footfalls during autumn,” said President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo.
Tourism stakeholders have given thumbs-up to the government’s new promotional programme. “It is good to start promotions before autumn. We receive a good number of tourists in autumn and winter. Promotional activities will help in increasing the footfalls,” said Sajad Ahmad a travel agent.