Srinagar: Forget leisure tourism, willow tourism is redefining the travel industry in Jammu and Kashmir
Cricket bat factories have become the latest attraction for tourists in Kashmir. Ban manufacturers said tourists have started visiting factories to observe the products being manufactured and the processes at work.
“Cricket is loved across the country. People want to see the places where bats are made. And when they visit tourist places in south Kashmir, they make it a point to visit the factories and see how these bats are manufactured. Many cricket enthusiasts have placed orders for customized bats,” said Fawzul Kabir, spokesperson of the Cricket Bat Manufacturers of Kashmir.
Since most of the showrooms are lined up on the highway, tourists drop in and desire to visit the factories.
“We have our outlets at Sangam, Sethar, and Halmulla. For the last few years, many top cricketers have visited the valley and used locally manufactured bats. It is creating curiosity. Buying a bat back is a kind of souvenir that they take from Kashmir,” he said.
Recently, former Indian player Suresh Raina visited the valley and played cricket with the local lads. Before that Bangladeshi star Mashrafe Mortaza also played cricket with boys in Kashmir during his visit to Sonmarg.
President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo said tourists have always loved made-in-Kashmir goods.
“Whether it is handicrafts or cricket bats, tourists always love and buy Kashmir-made goods. Cricket bats enthuse everyone. Tourists love visiting these sites to see the process that goes on to make the bats,” he said.
Kuthoo said they also promote Kashmir willow cricket bats by suggesting tourists visit these units.
The government is working on getting a GI tag for the Kashmir willow bat in a bid to promote it at the international level.
Tourism is one of the biggest sources of employment in Jammu and Kashmir. Since January 2022 to date, 1.62 crore tourists have visited Jammu and Kashmir, which is the highest in 75 years of independence. This year, Kashmir is witnessing an unprecedented tourism boom. The record number of arrivals signals overall development and positive change in Jammu and Kashmir, the government said.