Hope Returns

1 min read
landscape photography of snow pathway between trees during winter
Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

Snowfall in the upper reaches and some other parts of the Kashmir valley has brought cheers to all. The valley this winter witnessed a prolonged dry spell causing concerns among the people especially those associated with the tourism sector. While more snow is expected in the coming days, it is hoped that North Kashmir ski resort Gulmarg would be able to carry out its skiing and other winter sports activities. While more tourists are expected to visit Kashmir after the recent snowfall, joint efforts from the government and private stakeholders are required to diversify the tourist experience in the Valley even if there is no snowfall in the winters in the future. Winter tourism in Kashmir has traditionally been associated with Gulmarg and snow only. True, Gulmarg has for long remained the face of winter tourism in Kashmir and will continue to remain so. However, the authorities and other stakeholders need to work on a promotional campaign that works towards promoting Kashmir tourism ‘beyond snow’ in the winter months. Changes in the perception of intending tourists will not happen overnight but the stakeholders have to send out a message that one can visit Kashmir with or without snow during the winter months. One of the primary strategies that can be adopted is the promotion of alternative activities and events that align with the unique charm of Gulmarg. The government, in collaboration with local tourism stakeholders, can organise nature walks, bird-watching tours, and photography excursions to showcase the natural beauty of Gulmarg even without the usual snow cover. Moreover, cultural events and festivals can be organized to celebrate the rich heritage and traditions of Kashmir. This not only adds vibrancy to the region but also attracts tourists interested in exploring the local culture. Traditional music and dance performances, art exhibitions, and culinary events featuring local cuisine can create a unique and memorable experience for visitors. To cater to adventure enthusiasts, the government can focus on promoting year-round adventure sports that are not dependent on snow. Mountain biking, trekking and paragliding are examples of activities that can be actively promoted during the winter months if there is no snow. These adventure sports activities can be held at other tourist destinations of the Kashmir valley. Infrastructure development also plays a crucial role in enhancing the appeal of Gulmarg as a year-round tourist destination. The government can invest in upgrading facilities, such as trekking trails, viewing points and recreational areas. Well-maintained infrastructure not just in Gulmarg but other tourist spots if the Valley contributes to the overall tourist experience and encourages longer stays. To attract a diverse range of tourists, Gulmarg can position itself as a wellness and relaxation destination throughout the year. In the absence of snowfall in Gulmarg, tourists were seen flocking to Sinthan Top that had received snowfall earlier this season. Therefore, the government should also work on improving infrastructure at other places that have the potential of becoming additional attractions during the winters in Kashmir.

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