As the season’s first snow turned Kashmir into a winter wonderland on Thursday, tourists came in droves, putting the smiles back on the faces of those who make their living from tourism.
After five months of violence and street battles sparked by the killing of a schoolboy in June, which marred the early promise of 2010 — the state welcomed 600,000 tourists till then — the tourism sector is keen on making up for lost ground in peace time.
Around 725,000 tourists — excluding pilgrims to the Amarnath shrine — have visited the Valley so far this year, according to the state tourism department. “This figure is the highest in the post-militancy period,” a department official said.
It’s even higher than the 650,000-700,000 figure posted in 1989, just before militancy erupted.
Hotelier Mohammad Hassan is hoping the snow keeps falling. “We are praying for more snow and more guests. Each guest brings a lot of hope,” he said.