Variety

Kashmir unlocks Nagin Valley, finds the key to attracting tourists

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on April 30, 2012

naginresort   -  PTI

It may be the surest indicator yet that life is returning to normal in strife-torn Kashmir. More than two decades after it was closed to tourists on account of terror threats, Kashmir has reopened the Nagin valley for tourism.

Positioned as an eco-tourism travel destination largely to decongest Gulmarg, it's expected to get adventure lovers into the state.

The fact that Gulmarg itself needs to be decongested is a pointer to Kashmir's re-emergence on the tourism map. Last year the valley reportedly got 13 lakh visitors – this year, the state is gearing up to receive 20 lakh arrivals, and decking up in anticipation.

Rajii Rai, advisory board member at Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) describes how in the past two years there has been an explosion of holiday makers to Kashmir. “The state is witnessing a 70-80 per cent growth in tourist footfalls year on year,” he says.

Rajeev Duggal, MD Kuoni India, says the opening up of Nagin valley in Kashmir will also boost adventure sport in the country.

In fact, with Kashmir doing some clever marketing around golf tourism and adventure tourism, travel companies believe the state is poised to become a year around destination like Goa – and not just a summer special.

“Kashmir is emerging as an adventure tourism destination especially for trekking. With constant efforts to promote new attractions in Kashmir, it has the potential to become a year round destination,” says Duggal.

This summer a six night-seven day package to Kashmir that includes airfare and stay at a three or four star hotel will cost around Rs 25,000-27,000 per person. Travel companies say while Srinagar has inventory to support the growing inflow of tourists in the state, other regions like Pahalgam and Gulmarg need development of inventory to keep up with the growing demand. And this is where Nagin Valley neatly fills the gap.

Manish Kalra, marketing head of Makemytrip said, “Demand for Kashmir holiday packages is far more than we expected this summer. The Indian traveller has become more experimental and looking out for new destinations.”

Added Arup Sen, director, special projects, Cox & Kings, “Besides North India, there has been substantial uptake in domestic tourism from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Southern Indian states for Kashmir.”

With several key international economies facing the brunt of uncertain economic conditions, domestic tourism has become a key focus area for hotel and travel companies. In addition, lack of enough air inventory and currency fluctuations has made travel to international destinations more expensive.

Meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on April 30, 2012

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