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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Footfalls Of Integration

In Kashmir, even tourism is political—an uptick is touted as evidence of the benefits of abrogation of Article 370

Footfalls Of Integration
Footfalls Of Integration
outlookindia.com
2021-04-30T17:32:21+05:30

Not a day passes when the government and BJP leaders don’t talk about the large number of tourists visiting Kashmir as evidence that people in the Valley have started accepting the new political reality created by the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. For almost six months, all hotels, especially in Gulmarg and Pahalgam, had been closed due to the military siege and communication blockade that accompanied the abrogation. In 2020, after the government lifted ­restrictions on travel to the Valley despite the Covid lockdown, 41,267 tourists, including 3,897 foreigners, visited Kashmir—the lowest number since 1990. Since December 2020, however, the number of tourists has gone up drastically—19,102 visited in January alone, 26,180 in February and 47,593 in March.

“Our aim is to bring the golden era back to Kashmir,” says Lt Governor Manoj Sinha. “We are exploring new destinations. Efforts are afoot to put in place a better infrastructure for ­tourists.” In March, the government organised around a dozen shows to promote tourism. Bollywood singers were brought to the Valley and music festivals organised in the famed ­gardens. “We have been reading and hearing that Kashmir used to be a ­favourite Bollywood destination in the 1960s, the ’70s, and the ’80s. We will work to bring back the same culture,” says Sinha.

On April 10, Sinha and Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju inaugurated Khelo India Centre of Excellence in Srinagar. Two days later, the Ministry of Tourism organised ‘Another Day in Paradise: Tapping the Potential of Kashmir’ in Srinagar to project Kashmir as a destination for leisure, adventure and films. Union tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel says Jammu and Kashmir saw a five-fold rise in the number of tourists in...

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