At least 100 foreign tourists heading for Nepal have opted for Kashmir as an alternative destination after the devastating quake rocked the Himalayan region, forcing hundreds of travellers to rejig their trips.
"Two big groups of around 100 tourists have included Kashmir as alternative destination after the quake. Hundreds of Nepal-bound tourists are rescheduling their travel plans made for India-Nepal to fill the gap for this summer," Srinagar-based travel company Culture and Nature Expeditions' managing director Nasir Shah told the Hindustan Times.
Shah expects at least 50% Nepal cancellations to divert traffic to the mountains and adventurous Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Nepal, badly impacted by the April 25 earthquake of 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale, has hit the country's tourism badly. It may take several months to rebuild Nepal.
The quake is equally impacting India-bound tourist traffic.
"Nepal quake will have impact on India's summer tourism too. Most people would come for the joint Indo-Nepal trips and spend 3-4 days in Nepal for cultural tourism. However, the tourist traffic may be impacted to India too," Le Passage to India joint managing director Ramesh Punjabi told HT on phone from New Delhi.
The Le Passage to India, the country's known company for getting in-bound tourism traffic, has already started repackaging the booked trips to India and Nepal for next couple of months.
"We are providing tourists options like Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Kashmir in India as alternative to Nepal stay as they re-plan their trips. Besides scenic and mountain tourist hotspots, Kashmir offers adventure sports like trekking in the higher altitudes of Ladkah," said Punjabi.
He said many Indians also travel to Nepal and they too will have to look north to spend holidays.
Rauf Tramboo, owner of the Highland Journeys, known for adventure trips, said Kashmir is being opted for by Nepal-bound tourists because it offers several peaks as an alternate to Nepal.
"Most Nepal peaks may be above 4,000 metres and tourists are attracted to them. Kashmir is emerging as an alternate destination as it offers a range of peaks like Kolohai at an elevation of 5,186 metres, Nubra pass at 5,800 metres, Kharudangala pass at 5,557 metres and Changla pass at 5,609 metres," said Tramboo.
The easily accessible heights of Afarwat peak at 4,390 metres is easy to reach through a cable car. "The Harmukh peak at an elevation of 5,142 metres is not away from Srinagar," he added.
Kashmir tourism department, expecting increased foreign tourist footfall, is gearing up too. "There is increase in foreign tourists' booking post-Nepal quake. Our facilities are in place for adventure sports like rafting, mountain climbing and trekking. Besides, Srinagar offers cultural tourism too," said tourism department deputy director Zahoor Peerzada.