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COVID-19: Tourists influx to JK’s Pahalgam, Anantnag India on the rise

Visitor influx is gradually on the rise at several tourist spots in the Pahalgam area in Anantnag following a downtrend occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitor influx is gradually increasing at several tourist spots in the Pahalgam area in Anantnag after the sector nosedived courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. The upward trend on this delicate sector indicates that more tourists will visit Pahalgam to enjoy its mesmerizing beauty.

Pahalgam, which also goes by the name “Valley of Shepherds” is situated 100 kilometers away from Srinagar city. It is also considered one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of south Kashmir that used to attract a good number of tourists from different parts of the world every year.

The local Department of Tourism had lined up activities and efforts to revive the tourism industry of Kashmir by organizing a two day Pahalgam Festival, which involved a number of cultural activities to attract tourists.

The promotional activities have borne dividends given that a good number of tourists from different states of India are visiting Pahalgam to enjoy horse riding and sample delicacies of Kashmiri cuisine in addition to the exhilarating beauty the valley has to offer.

Dr G.N Itoo, the director of tourism in Kashmir State said, “Pahalgam has got great potential in tourism because of adventure tourism and rafting. Infact over 12,500 poor people in this area are dependent on tourism to earn a living.

“I am very happy that Kashmir has become a favorite destination for tourists worldwide. We should give credit to the government for efficiently managing the COVID-19 crisis, which was followed by improvement of infrastructure and mobilizing when we opened up the destinations.”

Speaking further, Dr Itoo said that tourism has picked up because in the last three months over 25,000 domestic tourists and one lakh local tourists have enjoyed all the district destinations, mainly Pahalgam and Gulmarg.

A tourist who gave his name as Ketan, said, “This is the first time for me to come to Srinagar. I have stayed in Srinagar for two days and today I am in Pahalgam. It is a great experience. The experience of horse riding felt very good. I am happy and I’m enjoying the trip.”

“I urge all travel lovers to come here. The place is very nice and the people here are very nice. They have a lot of respect, be it at a hotel or just passers-by, they treat visitors with so much love and respect,” he added.

Preeti Verma, another tourist said, “I had heard a lot about this place, people are very nice here. Just like the beauty of Kashmir, people here are also beautiful.

“I had long wanted to see snowfall. I am very happy… I had high expectations; Pahalgam gave me over and above my expectations”.

Chris Zandy, a foreign entrepreneur said, “The tourist department does a lot for the livelihood of the local people. It is good to see the first tourists come in, enjoy and give some benefits to the locals.”

“Indian tourists cannot travel abroad due to the COVID-19 restrictions, they will visit Pahalgam, and they may choose Pahalgam to escape the April heat. We are counting on them,” he said.

The Kashmir State Government has organized a fashion show’ at the Sheri Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar to give youth an opportunity to showcase local fashion.

“Our brothers and sisters have the capacity and talent to work in the fashion or film industry and there is nothing wrong with the platform. This show is a small effort to give them a stage to showcase their talents. “Fashion is not bad every time. It is all about clothes and a presentation of the same”, said Ousheeba, a contemporary style designer.

“There is a stereotype that females should not do modelling since it is not for them. To break this stereotype, this program has been organised”, Sara, a performer, said adding that she is feeling good that people got the opportunity to showcase their talent and ability to pursue the career they want for themselves.

Another female participant said, “It is a great platform for us. The things we learn here today will help me to grow as a model, especially the Kashmiri girls. It is really helpful. This is the first fashion show taking place here.” Umar Wani, who is professionally a Radio Jockey, but taught and judged ramp walk of the participants, said that they are planning to open an acting school in the valley to provide a path for the film industry.

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