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Tourist inflow higher in Uttarakhand & Kashmir

by Rinku Khumukcham
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A major shift is being noticed in domestic tourism which was not there in 2019. For example, most of the local tourists are now turning to Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand instead of popular hill stations like Shimla and Manali, and this trend is continuously visible. According to travel agents, the room occupancy of hotels in Shimla has come down to 20-30 percent on normal days and 60-70 per cent on weekends. The same is the case with Manali, where hotel rooms are being filled only 50 to 60 percent. After normalizing the situation in Kashmir and the removal of Article 370, now the scenario is different. Tourists in the Kashmir Valley are now seen roaming freely and fearlessly and it is becoming difficult to find rooms in hotels. Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha says that the present time can be termed the golden period of tourism in Kashmir. In the last few months, more than 10 million tourists have reached Kashmir to visit the valley. This is the first time in 20 years that such a large number of tourists have decided to spend their holidays in Kashmir. At present, 3500 shikara (boats) are serving the tourists day and night in Dal Lake.
About 2.5 lakh tourists have reached Shimla in the last one month. There has been a trend of ten thousand tourists reaching Manali every day. According to an estimate, more than 30 thousand tourists reach Himachal Pradesh every day. Most of the tourists visiting Himachal are from Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kolkata and Madras. However, this time fewer tourists have arrived from Gujarat than before. An official of Himachal Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) says that there is a possibility of some growth in tourism business in the coming days. Apart from Kashmir, the number of people visiting Ladakh is also encouraging. Leh is the only major town in Ladakh which attracts more tourists due to the presence of an airport. Other smaller destinations are Kargil, Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley. These places are accessible only by road and there is adequate connectivity from Leh for this. In hilly tourist places like Shimla and Manali, the biggest problem is with big hotels where booking is very less. The movement of foreign guests to these places is negligible at this time.
Meanwhile, Char Dham Yatra has started in three phases in Uttarakhand. At present, green signal has been given for Gangotri and Yamunotri Dhams within certain limits. Government permission will also be given for Kedarnath Dham and Badrinath Dham in a few days. Now a good road is ready for Char Dham yatra, due to which it takes only nine to ten hours. The starting point of Char Dham Yatra is Rishikesh, from where vehicles are available for onward journey. Good hotels and other places are available from point to point to stay on the itinerary. Amarnath Yatra is also going to start from next month i.e. 30th June. The AmarnathJi Shrine Board and the Government of Jammu & Kashmir have started making adequate arrangements for this. The highest emphasis is on ensuring safety. Amarnath Yatra will be special this time because it is happening after a long gap of two years.

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