Monthly Archives: February 2006

Rs 2 crore for Gulmarg Golf course

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan, Feb 16, 2006

Tourisn should get a major fillip as the government is investing heavily in infrastructure development at major resorts in Kashmir. From fashionable golf courses to modern hotels, the government is pumping huge amounts of money into infrastructure development.
The two golf courses in Pahalgam and Gulmarg resorts are being made 18 hole turf with all modern amenities. Another golf course with 18-hole capacity is also being planned at the Sonamarg resort.
“We have got Rs 2 crore for Gulmarg Golf course which will be one of the modern turfs in the country. This will give a big boost to our tourism sector,” said Nazir Ahmad Bhat, Director of Tourism, Kashmir.
Around one million non-pilgrim tourists are expected to visit Kashmir this year. Last year around six lakh tourists visited Kashmir. This excludes four lakh pilgrim tourists who visited the holy Amarnath cave in the past two months.
The government has also approved a proposal of setting up 25 new hotels and restaurants at the famed resort in Gulmarg. “We have identified 25 land plots which will be leased to the people for setting up modern hotels, restaurants and shopping complex. This will give Gulmarg an edge and it will become an international destination which can attract tourists who are concerned about the facilities”, Bhat said.
To have a better connectivity on the upper reaches, the government has decided to have a chairlift in Gulmarg. Already Gulmarg houses the world highest cable car situated at 13,400 feet. But the chairlift proposal has been mooted to connect the mountain ridges so that tourists have no problem in moving on the higher reaches to enjoy nature.
The government has earmarked Rs 4.5 crore for the project which is likely to kick off in summer. “We have got the money and we will definitely start work in summer,” said Bhat. Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussian Beig said the government is trying to give a major push to infrastructure development to put Kashmir on the international tourism map.

Love blooms in the Valley

DNA India February 04, 2006

SRINAGAR: Come Valentines day and Kashmir will play host to love birds from different states. Thanks to the special Valentine package announced by Mumbai based travel operators, the trouble torn valley will receive couples from across the country starting February 14.It is for the first time in 17 years of turmoil, that travel operators have focused on valentine day and announced packages to woo couples, ushering in a new era of thaw in violence plagued Kashmir.

Called the Kashmir valentine package, the three day four nights tour costs Rs 14000 per couple. It includes hotel accommodation, transportation and sightseeing at Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

“Interested couples can make bookings from any of our branches of Raj Travels network spread throughout the country. We expect a good response because it is for the first time that such a package has been announced by any tour operator in the country,” says Rakesh Gupta, head of Franchisee Raj Travels in J&K, which has conceived the idea of Valentine packages.

Gupta adds that the love birds will be provided special luxury vehicles from Srinagar for sight seeing in order to make their trip memorable. “We are doing our best to play good hosts and make the stay of our guests comfortable in Kashmir,” he says. “The package is valid up to February 28. It however does not include the to and fro fare.”

Elated by the novel idea, the state government feels that it will send a positive signal across the country and tourists will get motivated to visit Kashmir next season. “It is indeed a positive signal. If people come to Kashmir they will return with good memories. Through word of mouth, in the longer run the tourism sector will be benefited to a larger extent”, says Nazir Ahmad Bhat, Director, Tourism department, Kashmir.

According to official estimates, around one million tourists are expected to visit Kashmir this year. The figure excludes the pilgrim tourists who would visit Kashmir during the annual Amarnath Yatra.

Report: Experts train ski patrol team in Gulmarg Saturday, February 4, 2006 (Gulmarg):Experts from across the globe can be seen on the slopes of Gulmarg, attempting to train members of the Kashmir Ski Patrol for the 2010 Commonwealth Winter Games.

Peter and Kip are two ski coaches who have come all the way from Canada and the US to train the team in avalanche awareness, ski mountaineering and mountain rescue.

A ski patrol team is the need of the hour since the safety of skiers, who come every year in large numbers, is a prime concern.

“Lot of concepts are new. Technical aspects of rescue and first aid are doing well. We are having a lot of fun in our courses. We are very excited and it is a pleasure to be with them and they are enthusiastic towards the project,” said Peter Spricenieks, Canadian coach.

Crucial techniques

The members also said they were being given important lessons in techniques.

“They are teaching us rescue, avalanche safety, first aid and some good skiing techniques so that we are ready for 2010 Commonwealth Games. We are taking care of the skiers on these slopes,” said Mohammed Anwar, Ski Patrol member.

Gulmarg has been a big revenue earner as a holiday destination, which is why the state government is planning to revamp the slopes and add more facilities like cable cars.

“All the international ski resorts have some basic rules and regulations. Keeping those in view, we are making efforts to provide all facilities which an international ski resort has,” said G M Dar, Team Captain.

If everything goes well and Gulmarg hosts 2010 international ski event, it will give a big boost to the Kashmir tourist industry.