Kashmir Voted Best Emerging Tourist Destination Of India

Kashmir Voted Best Emerging Tourist Destination Of India

25 April 2012
DNA
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir has been voted the best destination-emerging (India) for 2012 by the prestigious international travel magazine Lonely Planet India. Jammu and Kashmir was chosen for the coveted honour after people voted for it in the polls, both online and in the magazine, held across India. The organisers have invited the J&K tourism functionaries to receive the award on May 3 in Mumbai, an official spokesman said. “The editor of the magazine in his communication to commissioner-secretary tourism and culture, Atal Dulloo, said that given the importance and scope, the awards will also be covered in the UK edition of the Lonely Planet Magazine,” an official spokesman said here. The honour comes at a time when Kashmir is all set to host two million tourists this year. Last year, more than 1.3 million tourists visited Kashmir. This excludes 6.33 lakh pilgrims who visited the Amarnath cave shrine in 2011 summer. “This vote will help us further promote J&K as the best destination in the country. J&K as a whole has bagged the honour and each three region of the state has its importance. If Kashmir is rich in natural beauty, Ladakh is the adventurists’ paradise. Similarly, Jammu too has great richness in pilgrim and other tourism,” said Farooq A Shah, director of tourism, Kashmir. The honour comes two years after the famed winter resort of Gulmarg was declared seventh top ski resort in Asia by CNN International. Gulmarg has been recommended by CNN International as one of the best ski destinations for downhill thrills, which attracts visitors from across the globe. The vote has instilled new hope among tourism players that the West will now revisit the advisories cautioning its people over visiting Kashmir. “These adverse advisories are affecting us a lot. Since Lonely Planet has voted J&K as best destination we hope that the West will now revisit the advisories and allow its people to visit the valley,” said GM Dag, chairman J&K Tourism Alliance, an apex body of the tourism players in the state. The J&K government too has pitched for lifting the advisories since Kashmir is now safe for all kinds of tourism. “Germany has lifted the advisory and UK has relaxed its advisory. Now we hope other countries will follow the suit,” said Shah. Tourism sector is currently doing roaring business with tourists’ bookings shooting up 80 to 90% inthe valley. “However, the exorbitant air tickets and less number of seats available in airplanes are affecting the arrivals,” said Dag.