Ali Mohammad Malik

This winter- Let Kashmir be a Global tourist destination

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Embracing the upcoming Tourist season

Tourism is the latest buzz throughout the globe and Kashmir must be on the bucket list of every tourist for the upcoming winter season which is almost at the threshold and the winter tourism destinations of Kashmir are ready to welcome the tourists- both leisure and adventure types. The main winter tourism destination of Kashmir i.e Gulmarg, will be busy all through the winter and the destination is expected to be fully packed.

Gulmarg, the queen of Himalayas is world famous for its slopes and skiers find it attractive and joyful besides it being the cheapest skiing destination in the world. The nature lovers also find this place mesmerizing while the newlywed-the honeymoon couples prefer to see the snowflakes swirling down while sitting in the cozy heated rooms of the hotels here. Leisure tourists have a guaranteed ‘wow’ experience here and often find every reason to get fascinated by the snow clad mountains, the gondola rides, skiing and snowboarding besides some sledge rides.

Though the authorities have promised opening up of two more destinations- Pahalgam and Sonmarg- as new winter destinations, Gulmarg has always dominated and remains the main winter tourism destination in Kashmir given the appropriate infrastructure, the skiing and snowboarding slopes, the lifts and the Gondola that ferries tourists and sports lovers to a height of well over eight thousand feet above the sea level. From the peaks of mount Affarvat, on a clear day a scintillating view of the entire valley can be enjoyed while sipping the famous Kashmiri Kehwa made available here by the authorities as well as private business outlets.

Besides, Srinagar city- particularly the Dal Lake is also a great tourist destination that has always attracted tourists, both domestic and foreigners since ages. Pertinent to mention that Srinagar having been included in United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative Cities Network 2021 list as ‘City of Crafts and Folk Art’, and the incorporation is a significant development that can further help the administration to showcase this place as a world-class tourism destination. The indigenous Crafts and Art, from hand woven shawls to Kaleens (carpets), from papier Macchie to woodworks and from Pashmina to great cuisine, this place offers a lot to the world.

Global tourism players find Kashmir as a great attraction and a destination full of dividends because of the range of tourism activities, the fascinating natural charm and beauty as well as the low-cost of staying here. Attractive tourism policies to divert the tourist traffic into Kashmir are needed to further boost the sector and ensure that tourism becomes the main contributor to the economy of the valley. To lure the foreign tourists, marketing campaigns must be undertaken with a purpose and that must mean business. We can earn foreign exchange in hundreds of crores and our economy will get the necessary impetus that it needs for progress and development. We can invite foreign investment in tourism sector for infrastructure development of hotels, amusement parks and other related fields besides setting up of World class amusement parks for kids and families will be an added attraction.

Studying and focusing on Russia, Europe, Arab Nations, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand etc can be of great help when formulating a multipronged tourism policy involving info-campaigns, advertisements, branding, films and other audio-visual contents. Inviting the tourism players from these countries will boost the tourism industry of Kashmir in a great way.

There are many tourism players across the world that have shown interest and continue to remain hopeful of establishing business relationships with Kashmiri counterparts. A personal friend recently got in touch with a Thai tourism player who seems greatly inclined towards establishing tourism business ties with the counterparts here. Some such companies include ‘Only One Tour Company Ltd’ Bangkok, ‘President William Koh-a global tourism player besides numerous others.

The need is to establish contacts and relationships with the global tourism players and globally acclaimed travel associations and companies.  At the same time big business houses of the country, such as Adani group, have shown their intent to stake in tourism sector here. These business houses must be lured to invest in Kashmir by offering incentives and support. We can dream of “Tourism Revolution” in Kashmir as we have natural resources and a little will power can actually create a fundamental change in the status quo. Infrastructure build up at newly explored destinations and upgrading the infrastructure at world-famous destination will surely bring in voluminous investment.

We all know that Kashmir is a beautiful, wonderful and blessed land bestowed with great potential. Government must priorities tourism sector for the development of the place and, through it, open the economy for global investment. Kashmir offers diverse flora and fauna, diverse cultures (rural, tribal and urban),diverse topography and terrains, diverse languages and religions. So, the tourism activities are also diverse- leisure, adventure, eco, pilgrimage, Medical, Medicinal, Agricultural, Horticultural, Floricultural, Tribal, Countryside-you name your area of interest and the opportunity is here.

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