January 2005 News

Gulmarg Snow Will Melt Tourists' Hearts, Feels Govt

6 January 2005
The Indian Express

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government is using snow as its USP to attract tourists. And youngsters from different schools from across the country are acting as 'ambassadors of peace' to promote ski resorts in the state. At present, 800 students from various schools in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Rajasthan, Pune and Uttar Pradesh have got themselves registered to reach the Valley to enjoy snow games and learn skiing. Lured by the discount package of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC), these students, from this week onwards, will ski on the white slopes of Gulmarg. 'The idea is to promote winter tourism and skiing culture among domestic tourists,' says Aziz Wani, Managing Director, JKTDC, adding that this package will also motivate youngsters to take skiing as a serious sport and bring laurels to the country by participating at the national and international level. To ensure that youngsters do not have to wait for skiing suits and other material, the JKTDC, with the help of the Tourism Development Corporation, has chalked down a plan - as per which a group of 20 to 30 students will be entertained during a particular time slot. The seven-day special student package tour, which costs Rs 4,950, will start from January 7 and continue till February-end. The package includes boarding- lodging facility, food, ski training and sight-seeing. Gulmarg and Patnitop have many slopes with marvellous powdery snow. A spanking cablecar ropeway that traverses several kms up the hill from Gulmarg to Seven Spring will transport youngsters over top of oak and fir trees. 'So that when they swoop down the slopes, they don't have to worry about the trudge back,' says Rashid, a tourist officer, Gulmarg. Besides getting training in skiing, they will enjoy magical moments at Gulmarg, like watching the sky open up at night and snowflakes floating gently, soundlessly on to the earth. 'Yes, Gulmarg can be a balm to city-tiered hearts and the youngsters, who, for years, have been dreaming to play snow games,' says Shamim, Manager, JKTDC. At present, students from state schools have already thronged Gulmarg heights for training at baby and advanced slopes. With youngsters around, the trainers have to be extra cautious to prevent them from falling ill. The first lesson they impart is: Do not eat snow. 'We have to repeatedly give them instructions that at high altitude, carry a water bottle and have plenty of water,' says a local skier and trainer.


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