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HOPE 2021

The central government on Tuesday said the tourist arrivals in Jammu and Kashmir have declined since the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status. In a written reply to a query in Rajya Sabha, Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel informed the Parliament that 84,326 tourists visited Kashmir since August 5, 2019 while 87,94,837 visited Jammu and 1,00931 tourists visited Ladakh. The total number of pilgrims/tourists who visited Jammu since August 2019 is 76,80,775. On August 5, 2019, the Centre revoked the special status, or limited autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. The minister said that since August 5, 2019, the number of tourist arrivals in Jammu & Kashmir declined. The impact was felt more severely in Kashmir valley than in the Jammu division. However, he said that the tourist footfall in J & K has been gradually increasing for the last few months. The minister added that the artisans engaged in different handicrafts activities are continuing their job and the government is providing support through different schemes and steps taken by the central government. He also said that the government released a stimulus package of Rs 5.6742 crore as relief in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic for its disbursement among the tourism stakeholders. While it is quite evident that the Kashmir tourism industry suffered a major setback after 2019, one has recently witnessed a ray of hope as the snow-laden valley has attracted many tourists. Stroll on the famous boulevard road on Dal Lake and one can see a noticeable number of tourists enjoying the scenic beauty of Kashmir. Besides, Bollywood too is showing keen interest in the valley and its great shooting locations. Recently, the big banners of Bollywood were on a 4-day visit to Kashmir to explore scenic backdrops for their future film projects. The top names which arrived here include Ajay Devgun Films, Sanjay Dutt Productions, Reliance Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Films, Zee Studios, Adhikari Brothers & SAB (Marathi), Endemol, Rajkumar Hirani, Excel Entertainment, etc besides representatives from Producers Guild, Mumbai.  Kashmir has witnessed a steady increase in tourist footfall due to continuous snowfall since the onset of winter. Celebrities who recently visited Kashmir include Singers Jubin Nautiyal, Guru Randhawa, Salman Ali, former Indian actress and model Sana Khan, Music Composer Salim Merchant, TV Host and Anchor Aditya Narayan, business tycoon Anil Ambani and most of whom visited Gulmarg. The ski resort also received 100 percent booking as most of the hotels are booked till February end owing to the huge tourist rush. Kashmir has been traditionally a favourite spot for the Bollywood who have shot scores of movies here at Dal Lake, Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.  The J&K tourism department too seems to be seriously promoting the sector and one hopes that it brings cheers on the faces of the stakeholders.