Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], October 16 (ANI): The influx of tourists in Kashmir has started rising gradually months after the tourism sector came to a halt following the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the country last year.
With relaxations in the COVID norms, people from across the country are heading to the union territory for a leisurely experience. Before the pandemic, people from across the world visited the union territory proving it standing as a "paradise" tourist destination.
"We are seeing surge in high-end tourists. Almost all three and four stars hotels are sold out till December. Unfortunately, the lower-end market segment is not picking up," President of Travel Agents Association of Kashmir Farooq Khutoo told ANI.
Rauf Trambu, a renowned tour and travel operator reiterated the increased footfall of tourists and said that in the last 10-12 days, the number of tourists in the valley increased. "There is a gradual increase in the number of tourists. In autumn and winter, we are expecting that the tourism sector will be flooded with tourists," he said.
A houseboat owner at Dal lake Ghulam Nabi Sheikh also echoed the same opinion that tourists are now heading to the valley. "People have started coming. In autumn we are expecting more people. Biker tourists are heading to Ladakh," he said.
Preeti, who arrived in Kashmir from Jaipur a few days ago, expressed her love for the mesmerising beauty of the valley. "There are a lot of places to see. It is a heaven on earth," she said.
Deep Kumar Singh, a tourist from Uttar Pradesh, said, "After the monsoon season, nature has worn a beautiful look. We have come to see this only. Kashmir is very beautiful. I am coming here for the third time and every time I see a new side of Kashmir."
The tourism sector in Kashmir was hit badly by the pandemic and faced huge losses. Several measures were taken up in the union territory to curb the infection including setting up COVID care centres, oxygen plants and carrying out awareness drives.
As the infection rate slowed, the administration organised several festivals to promote tourism. A three-day festival -- Aao Kashmir -- was organised in Zabarwan park on the banks of Dal lake.
For augmenting the tourism sector, the Department of Tourism will organise an iconic tourist festival from October 23 to October 29.
Tourism in Kashmir serves as an economic backbone to the union territory. (ANI)