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You’re welcome

The increased tourist arrival in Kashmir is a welcome development especially after nearly two years of a near collapse of the tourism sector that began when the government ordered tourists to leave Kashmir and cut short the Amarnath Yatra days before the August 5, 2019 move when the erstwhile state’s special status was abrogated, and J&K was divided into two union territories. Gulmarg, the famous skiing destination in north Kashmir, has a good inflow of tourists. In fact, if reports are to be believed, the hotels and guest houses in Gulmarg are fully booked until April. The hoteliers have welcomed the government of India’s efforts to revive tourism in Gulmarg, at least. In Srinagar, one also sees a noticeable increase in the number of tourists around Dal Lake. In fact, on Tuesday afternoon, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha was seen interacting with a few of them as he visited the Dal to have a firsthand look at the ground situation. During his interaction with the tourists, the Lieutenant Governor enquired about the experiences of their visit to Jammu and Kashmir. He asked them to be the goodwill ambassadors of J&K and carry the message to their respective states that the UT is an ideal and safe tourist destination. While assuring the tourists a safe and pleasant visit to the UT, Sinha said that the Tourism department, local community, and other stakeholders are collectively providing a tourist friendly environment to facilitate the visit of the tourists coming to J&K. From eco-tourism to winter sports, from pilgrimage to adventure tourism, J&K, the LG said, offers a host of attractions to tourists to experience the scenic beauty, warm hospitality, rich culture and heritage of J&K and make their visit to the UT a memorable one. He also advised the tourists to also explore the unexplored beautiful tourist places of the UT. The tourists, while sharing their experiences, said that they feel very much delighted to visit Kashmir. They also said Jammu and Kashmir is a safe place for all kinds of tourism activities and is really a paradise on earth. Jammu and Kashmir is all set to welcome one million tourists this year. This is for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 that tourists in large numbers will be descending on the valley. The tourism department has launched a massive publicity blitzkrieg outside Kashmir to instill confidence among the tourists and tour operators. Prior to the August 2, 2019 government advisory, more than 5.21 lakh tourists and 3.40 lakh pilgrims had visited Kashmir. In between August 5 to October 1, 2019, when advisory was in place, as many as 4231 tourists had visited the valley, which included 928 foreigners. In 2018, 1.61 lakh tourists had visited the valley during the same period, which included 9800 foreigners. This year, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to organize tourism festivals in major tourist destinations to create a new feel and boost the confidence of visitors. Tourism stakeholders too exuded confidence that there will be a good flow of tourists this year. One hopes that this year, tourism in Kashmir brings back the lost hopes and helps Kashmir be a better place.