In a first, picturesque Sonamarg thrown open in Feb

In a first, famous tourist resort of Sonamarg in Ganderbal district was thrown open for visitors on Thursday which otherwise remains closed till April.

The early access to snowy Sonamarg has brought a cheer to hoteliers, traders and people associated with the tourism industry here. The tourism department in collaboration with the district administration Ganderbal, NHIDCL, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) and Hoteliers Association Sonamarg organised a day long ‘Sonamarg winter festival ‘ to mark the opening of the Sonamarg tourist resort.

Advisor to Lieutenant Governor Baseer Ahmed Khan inaugurated the festival.

The day long Sonamarg Winter festival concluded with much fanfare witnessing the participation of hundreds of locals and tourists in various colourful activities and cultural programmes.

On the occasion Advisor Baseer Ahmed Khan said that an encouraging number of tourists are visiting Kashmir from last three months after the easing of COVID-19 lockdown.

He said that the aim of organising such festivals is to promote tourist places and tourism here which subsequently will improve the economy of the locals.

He said that government is throwing open many other potential areas for tourism activities and also upgrading the infrastructure to ensure memorable stay for the travellers. While expressing satisfaction over the successful conduct of the event, Director Tourism Kashmir Dr G N Itoo said that the Sonamarg festival received a huge response from all the visitors. He said the main aim of the event was to promote Sonamarg as a winter destination like Gulmarg and Pahalgam and invite tourists from across the country for holidays. “This event has been a part of our series of promotional programmes to revive the tourism sector which had been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to promote this popular resort for the winter season also. With the successful conduct of the event, a positive message has got across the country that Kashmir is abuzz with activities and travelers can come and enjoy their holidays,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal Shafqat Iqbal, SSP Ganderbal Khalil Poswal, CEO Sonamarg Development Authority Mushtaq Ahmed and representatives of hotel Association Sonamarg, NHIDCL and MEIL were also present on the occasion.

Pic: Aman Farooq/Gk

Meanwhile, the business community particularly hoteliers, traders and people associated with the tourism industry here have expressed happiness over the early reopening of the Sonamarg resort this year. They said that with the early reopening of the Sonamarg it will promote tourism here besides improving the economy of the people associated with the tourism.

“We express our gratitude to the administration, tourism department and SDA for their efforts to reopen Sonamarg early this year, adding that this will boost the tourism and will help people to earn their livelihood who are dependent on the tourism here” Mudasir War, a hotelier said.

He said that the hoteliers at Sonamarg have provided and offered huge discount to the tourists and visitors on the opening days.