Spring Splendour: Kashmir awaits holidaymakers as COVID cases wane

Lined up plethora of activities to attract tourists: Secretary Tourism
Tourists rejoice in Srinagar's Tulip Garden amid onset of Spring last year. [Representational Image]
Tourists rejoice in Srinagar's Tulip Garden amid onset of Spring last year. [Representational Image] File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: On a sunny February afternoon, a group of tourists from Pune city in Maharashtra, while enjoying a Shikara ride in the waters of Dal lake are busy recollecting the distress caused by COVID19 over the last two years.

However, the tourists are happy that COVID numbers have witnessed a significant decrease which made their Kashmir visit possible. Pradeep Kambli, a businessman from this city in western India, says he is visiting Kashmir for the third time in the last 5 years.

However, Kambli says the present visit of his family is the most exciting as weather has been quite pleasant and this visit holds significance.

“This I feel is the most apt weather for visiting Kashmir. Nothing like a sunny day in February with such pleasant weather and beautiful locales” says Kambli.

Like Kambli, his cousin Prashant Ulaskar is also upbeat about the Kashmir vacation. Ulaskar feels visiting Kashmir is the best way to get away especially after the gloom and doom caused by COVID19 during the last two years.

“The flight to Srinagar from Pune was my first air travel since 2020. I am overwhelmed by the fact that this vacation is turning out to be an exciting one,” says Ulaskar.

This group of holidaymakers from Pune has a long wish list for their one week Kashmir vacation. While they are keen on staying overnight in a houseboat, these visitors also want to visit Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg.

“I am newly-wed and visiting this place with my wife. We want to make this visit a memorable one and have planned a lot of day trips and stay over journeys to health resorts across Kashmir for the next one week,” said Sachin, also a resident of Pune.

Even as there has been a drop in the number of COVID cases, some of the tourists don’t want to lower their guard against the virus. Sachin says he continues to wear a facemask and use hand sanitiser regularly. “We don’t want that fun frolic trip to be a damp squib. That being the reason we are continuously using the facemask” he said.

The tourists visiting Kashmir say the Valley is quite a sought-after destination for tourists from across the country as many foreign travel destinations are out of bounds for travellers due to COVID.

Tourists say a vacation to Kashmir is “considerably pocket friendly” especially now that air fares to Srinagar have remained towards the lower side this winter.

“While it is about staying in a luxury hotel or eating out with the family, besides the increase in the number of options, the competitive nature of the hospitality industry in Kashmir is an edge for the tourist. It is a win-win situation for a person visiting the Valley,” said another tourist.

However, the tourists feel a lot more can be done to develop the health resorts of Kashmir, especially the road infrastructure. “We hope places such as Doodhpathri are given a fillip and there are better tourist amenities in such beautiful health resorts” said the tourist.

When contacted, Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez said tourist influx numbers are picking up and a bumper spring and summer season is awaited.

“Tourist activities are picking up which is a positive sign. We will be launching a campaign called Spring Splendour to attract the maximum number of tourists to Kashmir this season” said Hafeez.

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