KASHMIR FOOD FESTIVAL | ?Kashmir back on tourist map?
“THE STATE of Jammu and Kashmir and, specially the militancy affected Kashmir, has bounced back on to the international tourist map in a major way in recent years and has once again regained its special position as an exotic destination.”
These views were expressed by J&K Department of Tourism Director General M Saleem Beg while inaugurating the ‘Wazwan’ — a festival of Kashmiri food and culture— at the Noor-us-Sabah Palace hotel here this evening.
Talking to media persons, Beg informed that about 1 million tourists had visited Kashmir in the last year. “Our previous highest figure was seven lakh and we have surpassed that last year,’’ Beg maintained. Beg added that although Kashmir had gone through a bad patch due to militancy since 1990 with tourist inflow going as low as 27,356 arrivals in 2002, the scene had changed completely now.
“In 2005 there were 586223 domestic tourist arrivals and 19,100 international visitors to Kashmir,’’ Beg stated, adding it was a sure sign of how things had improved.
He said the State offered almost 4,000 rooms on water through houseboats besides boasting of several other achievements in the tourism sector. “J&K is famous for its saffron flowers, Mughal gardens, Dal lake and several pilgrimage sites,’’ he said.
He informed that by 2007 Udhampur Qazigund railway track would be commissioned offering rail connectivity to Kashmir area. Besides, the Srinagar airport had been declared international and there were major avenues for leisure, adventure and pilgrimage tourism, said Beg. He said the State had earned the distinction of hosting the Commonwealth Winter Games in 2010.
Meanwhile, Noor-us-Sabah hotel GM Sanjeev Nayar informed that the festival would continue up to February 22. He added that master chef Ghulam Nabi, who has been specially flown in from Welcomheritage Gurkha houseboat in Srinagar, would dish out various authentic non-vegetarian and vegetarian culinary delights from the state.
Besides, Ustad Munir Ahmad Mir from the Valley would entertain