SRINAGAR: As the slopes of the world famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir are covered with a thick blanket of snow and the weatherman predicting more snow in the winter tourist destination, all the hotels in Gulmarg are fully booked for Christmas and New Year as tourists are thronging to the place.
Hoteliers Club President Gulmarg Mukhtar Shah told that Gulmarg is fully booked for Christmas and New Year. "Infact all the hotels in Gulmarg are booked till January," he said. The Gulmarg resort is abuzz with tourists. An official of Khyber Resort Gulmarg said their hotel is completely sold out for Christmas and New Year.
According to Shah, there are 900 rooms and 1800 beds in all the hotels in Gulmarg and not a single room is available till January-end.
The tourist resort of Gulmarg at an altitude of 8,000 feet has been a major attraction for tourists this winter. The slopes of Gulmarg are covered with a thick blanket of snow. The weatherman has predicted snowfall on Christmas as well.
Shah said Gulmarg witnessed a good winter tourism last year also because of the Khelo India event. "The tourism had picked up a lot after the event and then COVID happened. But now from the last three months, tourist arrivals have again picked up and in fact it is at its peak now," Shah said.
About 2.46 lakh tourists visited Kashmir from October 1 - December 6 this year. Of them only 380 were foreign tourists while the rest were domestic tourists from different parts of the country. J&K Tourism Department is organizing a week-long winter carnival in Gulmarg from December 24 - January 1 to attract more tourists to the ski resort.
The Tourism department would be organizing music events, games, street food, skiing, ATV Rides, snow biking, ice skating and Gandola ride during the week long carnival.
Another hotelier said with the European tourism destinations including skiing destinations closed due to COVID, the domestic tourists especially hi-end tourists are turning to Kashmir and enjoying skiing in the slopes of Gulmarg.
In summers also, Kashmir witnessed a surge in golf tourism as the domestic tourists visited Kashmir to play golf in the picturesque Valley.
Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation president Abdul Wahid Malik said if Gulmarg is booked, then it would benefit the tourism stakeholders in other parts of the Valley. "If Gulmarg is booked, tourists would go to Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir and Srinagar," he said.
The government had decided to keep Sonamarg tourist destination, which used to remain closed for winter months due to heavy snowfall, open for tourists this winter. "The government will have to ensure that all infrastructure including heating arrangements, electricity, water, etc, remain available to the visitors there," Malik said.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)