While Kashmir has witnessed 8 percent less tourist footfall in first 6 months of 2019 as compared to last year, the number of visitors to the valley for the month of June has increased by 27 percent year-on-year.
About 1.62 lakh tourists visited Kashmir in June this year as compared to 1.18 lakh in June 2018, which is about 44,000 or 27 percent increase year-on-year, according to figures given by the Tourist Department.
In the first five months (January-May) of this year, 22615, 11395, 14805, 53648, 79633 domestic visitors have respectively visited Kashmir.
However, there has been overall decrease of 8 percent in influx of domestic and foreign tourists to Kashmir this year. Until last month this year, a total of 3.7 lakh tourists visited Kashmir. Out of these about 3.44 lakh are domestic visitors and 25,762 are foreigners. Last year, in first six months total 4.03 lakh visitors had visited Kashmir. Out of these 3.76 lakh were domestic visitors while 27,022 were foreigners.
While the first three months of this year saw a slight increase in foreign tourist arrivals to Kashmir with 2480 visiting in January, 4508 in February and 6432 in March as compared to 2369, 3632 and 6113 respectively last year. However, foreign arrivals also decreased after the situation that emerged post Pulwama attack.
Director Tourism Department, Nisar Ahmad Wani said that after Pulwama attack, European and other foreign countries started implementing travel advisories already in place more “strictly”, cautioning their citizens against visiting the region.
“Another reason has been the holy month of Ramzan in May-June due to which foreigners from south Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and other Muslim countries abstained from taking leisure tours,” he said.
The lowest domestic visitors visiting Kashmir have been in February this year, when Pulwama suicide attack took place. A total 11395 domestic visitors have visited Kashmir in February this year.
Initial three months of this year saw over 50 percent decrease in domestic tourist influx to Kashmir with only 22615, 11395, 14805 against 46888, 25484 and 32543 visitors visiting Kashmir last year.
It was in April this year when domestic visitor influx to Kashmir saw some surge with total of 53648 visitors coming here. The figure reflects some eight percent increase compared to last year when 49147 domestic visitors visited Kashmir in April.
Wani credits surge in arrival of visitors especially domestic visitors to subsequent publicity campaigns launched by his department post February attack.
“First the scorching heat in plains this year has been making visitors to come to Kashmir to escape from sweltering heat. And another thing is hectic efforts launched by the department to counter negative publicity that had been generated among the masses within the country. Post attack there had been cancellations of bookings in valley leading to losses worth crores to the industry,” said Wani.
He added that the department launched publicity campaigns in metropolitan cities across the country.
“We also invited 33 leading tour operators from Maharashtra to give them first hand feel of valley and also to clear their apprehensions. Besides, in March this year, we invited seven journalists from Mumbai to Kashmir. That helped to wipe negative publicity and apprehensions to some extent,” added Wani.