Srinagar: Despite the devastating floods and two elections in the state this year, about 11 lakh tourists thronged Kashmir, even as efforts are on to attract more visitors to the Valley during the winters.
"We had crossed the figure of 10 lakh tourists before the floods and as the year is to end now, we have received around 11 lakh visitors," Director Tourism, Kashmir, Talat Pervez told PTI.
Pervez said Kashmir hosted more than 20,000 tourists every month since the floods in September.
"After the floods caused widespread devastation, we have been able to revive the tourism by 50%. We used to receive around 40,000 tourists per month for this period of the year but after the deluge, around 20,000 tourists visited Kashmir every month," he said.
The director said he was hopeful of "fully reviving" tourism in the next three months as the department was taking many steps aimed at reviving the sector in the Valley and many more initiatives were in the offing.
"We are holding local level events, interactions with tour operators outside the state and festivals to dispel the notion that Kashmir was not safe to travel after floods. We have also invited tour operators from outside to see for themselves what the Valley had to offer. We are on a vigorous publicity campaign for promotion of tourism," he said.
Pervez said the stakeholders too were taking a few initiatives to put the sector back on track.
"The private tourism players too are holding a series of road shows, travel trade marts and press meets at various destinations across India to spread the message loud and clear that destination Kashmir was as normal and pristine as it was before the floods," Pervez said.
The director said the department will organise a three-day 'Jashn-e-Chillai Kalan' to attract more tourists to the Valley.
"We are hosting the 'Jashn-e-Chillai Kalan' from December 29 to 31. The first event will be held at SKICC on December 29. Though it is an annual feature now, this year there will be more activities.
"Then we are having another event at Nigeen Club on December 30 in which young entrepreneurs will take part. There will be music and painting events. And finally on the New Year's Eve, the focus will shift to Gulmarg," he said.
Pervez said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg would have eco-friendly New Year bash which will include a digital firecracker show.
"The main New Year celebration will be held at the famed ski-resort and winter destination of tourists, Gulmarg in north Kashmir. There will be first-of-its-kind environment friendly New Year celebrations that will include a digital firecracker show and performance of DJ Aki," he said.
The department is also planning to offer some discount for tourists visiting the Valley during the winter.