A blooming tourist season in the Kashmir valley
A corporate executive in Srinagar is in a spot. His boss from Delhi is supposed to arrive on May 24 but he cannot put him up in a good hotel. "I am getting bookings for a week later but no space is available on that day," said Iman Qureshi (name changed).chandigarh Updated: May 22, 2012 13:21 IST
A corporate executive in Srinagar is in a spot. His boss from Delhi is supposed to arrive on May 24 but he cannot put him up in a good hotel. "I am getting bookings for a week later but no space is available on that day," said Iman Qureshi (name changed).
Peace in the valley and the rising mercury in the rest of the country have made Kashmir a favourite tourist destination this season.
While 2011, a peaceful year, saw a record number of 1.3 million tourists, tourism minister Nawang Ringzin Zora expects around 2 million this year.
The tourism department said 140,000 tourists visited the tulip garden in Srinagar in just 15 days in spring.
The government is taking initiatives. While cruising has started on the river Jhelum after 30 years, the government has opened the scenic meadow of Nagin, a major point of infiltration for militants just 5 km from the line of control. The place was closed for the public in 1990.
The initiatives are getting a good response. Hotels and houseboats have been booked till the middle of July.
"We have 910 houseboats, which include around 350 deluxe and more than 200 A class category and every room is occupied,'' said Mohammed Azam Tuman, president of the Houseboat Owners Association.
Besides domestic visitors, Kashmir is getting international tourists. "After a long time I have 15 groups of all American tourists,'' said Omar Tibatbakal, owner of Labaika Tour and Travel Agency.