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Local trekkers’ social media posts attract tourist-hikers to Kashmir

TREK THUMB


Srinagar: Surjit Kumar of Maharashtra has explored almost all major adventure destinations in the country.

For Kumar,  Kashmir was always on the bucket list. However, due to some circumstances, he could not fulfill his wish.  

 

Last month, the 33-year-old saw photos of unexplored virgin valleys on social media and could not hold in.

The travel aficionado took the next flight to Srinagar and embarked on a journey to explore the real Kashmir. “We wanted to spend time at a very serene place, far away from the noise of cars and machines. So, Kashmir was the apt destination and we choose Gurez to spend our vacations,” Kumar said.

For the last few days, Kumar has visited Gurez and stayed in the picturesque villages on the foothills of the mountains in north Kashmir. “The experience was completely different. We spent nights in a makeshift tent, ‘bakarwal kotha’, and relished local cuisines,” he said.

Post pandemic, tourism has been redefined in Kashmir. From routine Gulmarg-Pahalgam axis to new unexplored virgin valleys, visitors are now changing the contours of Kashmir tourism by visiting the destinations less traveled.

 Travel agents claim the pictures and videos of serene places uploaded on social media have increased the inquiries for trekking packages.

“We receive a significant number of trekkers, who apparently have got inspired by our local trekkers. Our local trekkers visit many destinations and post pictures on social media handles, which attracts many explorers” said President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo.

He said mostly high-end tourists include trekkers are currently visiting the valley. “High-end hotels are reporting 50 percent occupancy. Mostly, we receive visitors from West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, who come to spend their vacations in Kashmir. The budget category too is showing signs of improvement,” Kuthoo said.

Tourism again started picking up after restrictions were eased in Kashmir. Destinations including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonmarg are abuzz with tourists, while hotels too are reporting a gradual improvement in occupancy.