Srinagar, December 23: Kashmir is buzzing with excitement as tourists flock to the region in anticipation of snowfall during the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays. The winter wonderland of Gulmarg and Pahalgam is receiving overwhelming attention, resulting in all hotels being fully booked!
The local hospitality industry is booming as hotels, resorts, and guesthouses in Gulmarg and Pahalgam gear up to accommodate the surge in tourists. The fully booked status not only reflects the popularity of these destinations but also demonstrates the unwavering confidence that travelers have in Kashmir’s unparalleled beauty and warm hospitality.
After the abrogation of Article 370, the surge in tourism brings hope and relief to the local economy. The thriving tourism industry provides employment opportunities to numerous locals, supporting their livelihoods and contributing to the overall growth of the region.
Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, the Tourism Secretary, expressed confidence that the winter months would be successful for Kashmir’s tourism industry.
Various activities, including musical evenings, firecracker shows, night skiing, and torch skiing, have been planned for New Year’s Eve to enrich the experience for visitors.
Shah said that the winter season is one of the core focus areas, and other than Gulmarg, which is the famous winter destination of the country, this time the tourism department is focusing in a big way on destinations like Sonamarg, Doodhpatri, Bhaderwah, and Sansar.
The recent snowfall has increased the tourist influx to the region, especially in the world-famous health resorts of Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonamarg.
Talking to Kashmir Despatch, Rouf Ahmad, a manager at one of the hotels in Gulmarg, mentioned that there is a growing momentum of both domestic and foreign tourists. He stated that all our rooms are already packed ahead of the New Year celebrations.
Rouf further commented that this year will be a record-breaking one in Gulmarg, not only with an influx of tourists from India but also from foreign countries.
He mentioned that for the past week, they have been extremely busy with all the preparations for the New Year celebrations.
Rouf further informed us that they have also planned various activities, including a musical evening and a firecracker show, for the visitors at their hotel.
Raina Farooq, a hotelier in Sonamarg, while talking to Kashmir Despatch, expressed his excitement about hosting tourists from around the world on New Year’s Eve.
He said that business owners in Ganderbal district, in central Kashmir, are delighted to welcome winter tourists.
Farooq also expressed gratitude towards the tourism department, highlighting their cooperation in planning to organize winter sports activities in Sonamarg this winter.
Rauf Tramboo, the president of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), told Kashmir Despatch that “the influx of tourists in Kashmir during the festive season has exceeded our expectations, with bookings for December-end and January surpassing last year’s figures. Notably, not only popular destinations like Gulmarg but also Pahalgam and Srinagar are witnessing a significant rise in tourists.
Pertinently, Gulmarg, a health resort in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, has experienced an extraordinary surge in tourism this year, attracting approximately 15 lakh visitors. Among these visitors, a notable figure of 9,750 were foreign tourists.
Suhail Khan is a filmmaker, content writer, and freelance journalist.