Srinagar, Dec 30: New Year revellers from across India are thronging Kashmir’s ski-resort at Gulmarg, known as ‘Switzerland of Asia’, with the hotels at famous winter destination fully booked, bringing cheer to the tourism players in the valley.
As such there has been an improvement in tourist arrivals this year, with over 8 lakh people including 50,000 foreigners visiting the valley, notwithstanding the political turmoil in Kashmir.
Director Tourism Department, Nisar Wani also expressed hope of a good year in terms of the number of arrivals in 2019.
“The large number of arrivals this season is good news for the tourism sector in Kashmir as well as the department. We have had around 8.5 lakh tourist arrivals, including about 50,000 foreigners in 2018 and we are expecting very good arrivals from different parts of the country as well as abroad in the next year, Wani said.
The tourist resort of Gulmarg at an altitude of 8,000 feet, 50 km north of summer capital Srinagar, is full of people and the hotels there have registered cent per cent booking till the first week of January.
Gulmarg is full, there is total occupancy in the hotels at the resort, Wani told PTI.
Often described as the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’, this year again Gulmarg will play host to a number of activities as part of the winter games beginning Monday.
“The events include skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-race and others. Then there will also be a cultural programme in the evening to welcome the New Year,” Wani said.
Before the onset of militancy, Gulmarg, declared as the Winter Games Capital of India by Winter Games Federation, used to witness large-scale celebrations on Christmas and New Year eve, offering best slopes for amateur and professional skiers, who weaved their magic on ice much to the delight of spectators.
However, the arrivals dropped due to violence.
In the recent years, the successive state governments have toiled hard to change the perception about the valley and attract a large number of tourists.
To some extent, they have been successful, but the tourism players feel a lot more needs to be done to uplift the industry.
Asif Burza, a young hotelier, who is managing director of Ahad Hotels and Resorts a reputed chain of hotels across various destinations in the valley feels it is a crucial time for the tourism industry in Kashmir and as such the government needs to do more to enable the players here to compete with other destinations.
“This year, especially the holiday season around Christmas and New Year, has been good compared to the last couple of years. But, a lot more needs to be done to sustain the influx of tourists to the valley so as to have a prolonged season, Burza told PTI.
He attributed the good arrivals this season to efforts of the government as well as the tourism players in changing the perception of the valley among the intended visitors.
We have full occupancy in Gulmarg and surprisingly very good rush in Pahalgam. Srinagar is also doing good. The Christmas and New Year week has been very good and much better than what was in the last couple of years. This is largely because of the efforts to change the perception about Kashmir and overall, generally people have started to realise that the perception created about the valley is wrong, he said.
Burza, who is also the president of Pahalgam Hoteliers and Restaurant Owners Association, said while the holiday season sees a tourist rush, the challenge is to sustain it.
Tourism survives when there is a sustained season. This industry is on a ventilator right now, because the cost of operations is very high. Plus, they have put a burden of very high GST slab on tourism. So, government has to really think. They need to protect our industry, they need to give a cushion to the industry so that we are able to compete with other destinations.
What could help attract more tourists to Kashmir over the next three months is a good snowfall. While the higher reaches of the valley, including Gulmarg, are covered with snow, the possibility of white flakes from the sky in the coming days is expected to add to the beauty.
The MET department has forecast rains or snowfall at fairly widespread places in Kashmir over most part of the next week, which could add extra zing to the New Year celebrations.
Joint Hurriyat hails Pak SC’s ruling on Kashmir, GB
Srinagar, Jan 20: Joint Hurriyat Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik Sunday held a meeting at the octogenarian leader Geelani’s residence.
At the meeting, the leadership, as per a statement, expressed satisfaction over the verdict announced by the seven judge-bench of Pakistan Supreme Court that upheld the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir and directed the Pakistan government to provide more citizenship, legal and social rights to the people of Gilgit and Baltistan (GB) besides stating that the lingering dispute of J&K be resolved by means of plebiscite.
“Pakistan Supreme Court in its fresh verdict has laid stress on the fact that till the issue of Kashmir stands unresolved, Pakistan and India must ensure that the people of this region enjoy maximum rights for areas within each country’s control,” the statement read.
At the meeting, the leadership expressed serious concern over the “perpetual incarceration” of many political prisoners languishing in Indian jails and the ill plight and inhuman treatment meted out to Kashmiri political prisoners lodged in various jails including Tihar Jail ,Kathua, Udhampur, Kotbalwal, Samba, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jodhpur and other prisons stating that world organizations should take strong note of the condition of Kashmiri prisoners lodged in these prisons and how legal processes and procedures are misused to detain them and prolong their detentions.
JK Bank quarterly results: Market experts predict 65% long-term upside potential
Srinagar, Jan 20: J&K Bank results for the third quarter have come up with numbers having enough indicators to tell the market pundits that the bank is bound to see a positive growth in the coming days, starting the current quarter.
The bank has exceeded expectations according to the market experts who say the numbers are quite assuring and the script is being strongly recommended for buying with upside potential of 65% in the long term.
As per recommendations by major broking houses like Prabhudas Leeladhar, ICICI Direct, Anand Rathi and Elara Securities, the bank looks strong in long term perspective. At the current price the stock is a great investment opportunity to those interested in the stock market.
Commenting upon the expected move of J&K Bank, Rakesh Kumar, Analyst at Elara Securities said in a written statement: “Jammu & Kashmir Bank’s operating performance was above market estimates as margin improved by 22bp QoQ (basis points Quarter-on-Quarter) due to higher credit yield.”
Kumar, as per the statement, said that lower-than-expected provisions and higher operating profit beat “led to significantly higher net profit of Rs 1.07bn versus our estimates of Rs 0.17bn.”
He added on the balance sheet front, credit grew by 12 per cent YoY while deposits witnessed growth of 18 per cent YoY.
“Within deposits, the rest of India’s (RoI) term deposits grew at an average 48% over the past two quarters, and we believe that such a continued phenomenon will result in increased cost of funds over the long term,” Kumar said.
He said that JKBK has exposure worth Rs 13.5 bn to stress-laden IL&FS Group, of this, the bank has reclassified exposure as sub-standard in Q3FY19, and this resulted in higher slippages at Rs 10.3bn (past two quarters average at Rs 5.1bn), and, as a consequence, both GNPA and NNPA saw a sharp uptick. However, despite higher credit cost, coverage ratio at 66 per cent was close to its past four-quarters average at 68 per cent.
In sync with Elara Securities views, Simi Bhaumik, Technical Equity Analyst (Offficially registered with SEBI) told Zee Business online: “Technically the J&K Bank strip looks strong in long-term perspective. In short-term, the stock has moved from Rs 39 levels to Rs 41 levels. If it breaks the Rs 41-42 levels, it can move for its another resistance at Rs 48. After breaking this level and sustaining above that, one can expect the Rs 65 target.”
Khyber Gulmarg wins best destination hotel award 2018, again
Srinagar, Jan 20: The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg’s first luxury resort, has once again been awarded by Outlook Traveller, India’s prestigious travel magazine.
At the recently held Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotels Awards 2018, the resort was conferred with the Best Destination Hotel Award.
The 3rd edition of the Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards was held in Haridwar recently where the best boutique properties around the country were awarded for their contribution to the hospitality industry.
The chief guest for the night was Satpal Maharaj, the Minister of Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand.
“We are truly overwhelmed with the response from both guests and traveller writers and of course the eminent jury. This honour is testimony to the hard work by the team at The Khyber ensuring a superlative, international class guest experience and a memorable time in Gulmarg enjoying the natural beauty and activities available all year round,” said Umar Tramboo, MD, Pinnacle Resorts Pvt. Ltd, promoter of The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg.
In a short span, since it opened six years ago, The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa has been hugely appreciated for its impeccable service, warm hospitality, and facilities at par with international standards.
The Khyber has consistently received recognition from several hospitality and travel awards including Condé Nast Traveller India, the Last Word in Travel, as Favourite Boutique Hotel –India, for six consecutive years.
In addition to luxurious guest rooms, The Khyber has a Wellness Block, which houses the world-class international spa, The Khyber Spa by L’OCCITANE along with a state of the art gym with the latest equipment, separate steam and sauna chambers for men and women. It also offers an impressive heated indoor pool offering dramatic views of the mountain ranges.
About the Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards
Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards 2018 are meant to celebrate an industry that is well in its prime and will remain so long as people seek new experiences and retain their wanderlust.
These are much coveted travel awards, which are given to brands that have left an everlasting impression on their guests through their hospitality and services.
The esteemed jury members along with EY, the process advisors for the event, made the celebrations on the banks of the holy Ganga a great success.
The jury for the 2018 edition was: Aman Nath, chairman, Neemrana Hotels; Dilip Puri, founder & CEO, Indian School of Hospitality; fashion designer Anupamaa Dayal; Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy of Red Scarab Media; and Charukesi Ramadurai, travel writer and blogger.