Srinagar: Amid an uptick in COVID cases in Jammu and Kashmir, the ski enthusiasts and adventure lovers are thronging the ski resort of Gulmarg in huge numbers.
As per ski club operators who provide skiing training to skiing enthusiasts said that they are witnessing a good footfall and their bookings slots are fully occupied till the end of this winter.
The rush of ski tourists is not only making the Gulmarg lively but also bringing good business opportunities to every tourism player after years of slump.
Inayat Ahmed, who runs the Himalayan Ski School at Gulmarg said that they have been getting a number of bookings since late November.
“Good thing that happened is that locals, as well as domestic tourists, are more into snow adventure now and it has benefited us in many ways. After two years of the COVID slump, people have learned to navigate through the COVID and enjoy the holidays. We are hoping more rush in coming days.”
Ski club operators said that the rush of tourists is not only benefitting them but also other tourism players at Gulmarg.
Shahid Rasool, who runs Gulmarg Ski club said that since the first week of December, he has hosted multiple groups from across India including some foreign ex-pats.
“I have hosted over one hundred individuals from across India from November only. Although the foreign tourists are not coming due to COVID, domestic tourists have kept the business going.”
“We started booking from the first week of November and we are sold out till the first week of March,” Shahid said.
Every year, these ski clubs organize packages for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow adventure at Gulmarg. Ski club owners like Shahid are working in different groups to attend to multiple tourists.
He said they are a team of 30-40 people including drivers, helpers, guides, and instructors. They said that a good skiing season brings good business to everyone even if they are not directly linked to ski clubs.
Arti Saklani, a first-time Kashmir visitor said that the Ski experience and snowfall made her first visit memorable. Visiting Kashmir with her family for the first time, she said that after having second thoughts due to covid they are glad that they made this trip.
“Kashmir has been on my bucket list for a long time and finally the trip materialized. The experience has been great, people are amazing and helpful and the hospitality sector here treated us very well. Places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam are a must-visit and we are hoping to make winter trips to Kashmir a routine,” Aarti said.
As per the official figures from the Tourism department, over 5.13 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir till the end of November 2021 including 1317 foreigners.