Valley’s tourist graph on high

JAMMU, JANUARY 9: Miles away from Hyderabad, where Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is trying to attract investors and tourists, record number of foreign tourists are visiting the valley for the first time in the last 16 years of turmoil. Last year, India had more than 13 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrival with maximum visiting (435, including 200, from Europe and North America) Kashmir in December. A jubilant Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) is trying best to attract more tourists.
Moscow-based adventure sports company Skies Himalaya will bring tourists from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and UK for a 42-day trip in Srinagar on January 14. Besides, German ski company Flory-Kerl will also arrive with a big group for 15 days on January 12. Twenty-six members of Alexandria Group from Moscow who returned on December 31 will arrive again in next month. Many more companies from outside India were requesting JKTDC to arrange for holidays, said an official.

Groups from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Russia and other countries are going to throng Kashmir to enjoy skiing amidst the enchanting beauty of Gulmarg slopes.

A package of Rs 6,990 per head for a group of minimum six persons grabs attention of domestic tourists from across country. The package includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, transportation from Srinagar Airport to Gulmarg and dropping back, and stay at cottages.

“The package is getting very good response from domestic tourists, and since December, hundreds of groups have been entertained by JKTDC. And, as the winter season is there to stay for another two months, this time record number of tourists are going to visit the valley during winter,’’ said Shamim Ahmad, Deputy General Manager, JKTDC.

Never before during the past 16 years of turmoil in the state, such a great influx of tourists, whether domestic or foreign, was witnessed. Since 1947, for the first time foreign tourists are coming in such a large number, he added.

Shamim said that to attract domestic tourists, they have different kind of packages according to their needs. He said that a package of 10 nights and 11 days offered at Rs 11,000 per person was the best one, which had even many awards for the JKTDC.