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2011 Kashmir's best tourism season in 25 years

2011 Kashmir's best tourism season in 25 years

Author: Mufti Islah
Publication: IBNLive.com
Date: October 18, 2011
URL: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/2011-kashmirs-best-tourism-season-in-25-years/193988-3.html

After three summers of strife, tourists this summer flocked to the boathouses, shikaras and hotels in Kashmir. A recent survey shows 2011 has been the best for its tourism industry in the past 25 years.

Official figures now show that airfare to and from Srinagar has gone up. In July, a Delhi-Srinagar air ticket was sold for Rs 23,000 as against a low of Rs 1500.

Flights to Srinagar doubled in the last few months - from 11 to 23 a day including early morning and late night flights.

The number of rooms available has now doubled from 18000 to 36000. And a new five star hotel and an 18-hole golf course in Pahalgam have been added for high-end tourists.

The hotels and houseboats with fancy names amidst the Dal lake are almost packed to the brim. There are long traffic snarls on the boulevard every evening and eateries in Srinagar are busy with tourists. Every one from shikarawallas to hotel and travel operators are smiling at the tourist arrivals that are set to break a record.

Buoyed by the tourist influx, the tourism department is demanding direct air connectivity from Southern India and South-East Asia - specially for the winter months when skiing and snow games get underway.

Tourism Department Director Farooq Ahmad Shah said, "There should be more flights from Bangalore to Srinagar or from rest parts of country. Our domestic market is quite huge. Crores of people in our country go for outing. Kashmir is always their dream destination. Better connectivity will ensure good season."

Amidst the cheer, there's the sobering reality. To re-emerge as a top tourist destination, Kashmir clearly needs more than one good season.

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