Post-Unlock 2.0, tourism has started picking up across Jammu and Kashmir. Tourism players are over the moon as bookings for the autumn season have surged by more than 30 percent. Since the festive season is starting, tourists from West Bengal, Maharashtra and the southern states are keen to spend vacations in Kashmir. The valley looks stunningly beautiful in autumn. The sweet aroma of the dry golden leaves and the gentle breeze make Kashmir truly a romantic paradise in autumn.
Tourism players have another reason to rejoice as Indigo has started a direct flight from Srinagar to Hyderabad. Indigo will operate a direct flight four days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Earlier in March, GoAir became the first airline in India to operate night flights from Srinagar to New Delhi.
Data reveals on an average daily more than 8,000 passengers travel to and fro Srinagar airport on 70 flights. Currently, direct flights are operating on 13 routes from Srinagar airport.
Union Ministry of Tourism has undertaken various activities for the promotion of domestic tourism. It is primarily aimed at increasing awareness about tourism destinations and products. North East, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh are the focus areas.
What has been the icing on the cake is the government’s decision to transform 75 villages known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance in tourist villages. Under the Tourist Village Network, the government intends to showcase landscapes, indigenous knowledge systems, cultural diversity and heritage. The subtext of the scheme is to encourage film shooting and create a rural tourism circuit
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has suggested four broader areas for promotional activities including Farm Stays, Eco-Tourism, Wildlife Tourism, and Tribal Tourism.
Tourism has become a big industry across the world. It is not about sightseeing or basking under the sun anymore. Tourism has diversified and new attractions are making it competitive across the globe.
Waking up to this reality, Kashmiri travel bloggers too have started exploring new things. There is a niche section of people that travels purely for food. They mostly explore the traditional food joints and markets and also are interested in the legacies behind the cuisines. Food tourism has become an industry outside but it is still in its infancy in Kashmir. `Kashmir Food Gram’ is leading the way by promoting culinary walks to attract food-loving tourists to Kashmir.
Even heritage walks and long treks are staging a comeback. The walks are aimed to promote the state’s historical places which have tourism potential. Earlier, the tourism department would organize events at the Culture Center, Jamia Masjid in the old city. The participants would walk through old markets in the downtown area. The walks would generate a good response among the locals. Of late, these walks have got a twist.
Kashmir has so much to offer. Tourism honchos only need to harness the potential. The government’s initiatives are welcome, but there is scope for improvement. Infrastructure development is a key to promote tourism. Unless we have a world-class infrastructure, we will not be able to attract niche tourists. Roads, hotels, transportation, communication hold key for tourism development. The government needs to focus on key areas to make Kashmir truly a global destination.