Blessed abundantly with a plethora of natural beauty, fondly known as ‘Heaven on Earth’, Kashmir has always been a must-visit destination for tourists all over. From serene and peaceful lakes to the beautiful fields of tulips and gardens to the tallest of mountains with lush greenery and meadows, the land of Kashmir is a treat to the eyes.
Numerous poems, couplets, songs and other pieces of art have been dedicated to this land that after one visit, the experience can never be forgotten. The magical Dal Lake in Srinagar, the enchanting beauty of Pahalgam and Gulmarg and the many mysterious valleys, pristine lakes and challenging treks are some of the many reasons why tourists love to frequent this place. Millions of tourists from all across the world flock here to revel in the beauty of Kashmir, a place that offers a once in a lifetime experience.
Tourism in Kashmir
Kashmir has something to offer to every kind of tourist. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a trekker, somebody looking for some leisurely time, a snow lover, a lover of nature or a pilgrim, Kashmir has some wonderful surprises in store for you.
Not just tourists and travellers but it is no surprise that Bollywood too, has been mesmerized with Kashmir’s beauty. Numerous films including Raazi, Haider, Highway, Uri, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Betaab and Kashmir Ki Kali have been shot here.
Tourists flock here not just to seek some leisurely time away from the grind of daily life but thousands of pilgrims also come to Kashmir to visit the holy shrines of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi every year.
WIth numerous trekking routes to explore, Kashmir is nothing short of a paradise for trekking enthusiasts. For the adventure seekers, Kashmir has a host of activities to feel that thrill and adrenaline rush. For those looking to indulge in some luxury, Kashmir has some of the world’s best resorts and hotels. And for those keenly interested in heritage, culture and art, Kashmir has a lot to offer.
Role of Tourism on the Economy of Kashmir
From an economic point of view, tourism plays a very important role in Kashmir. A major percentage of the population is employed in the tourism sector. Several families in Kashmir are directly or indirectly dependent on the tourism industry for their livelihood.
Whether it is working in hotels, houseboats, guest houses, driving cabs or taxis or running restaurants, eateries or handicraft shops, the life of several Kashmiris largely depends on tourism. The sector is believed to employ over a million locals.
‘Kashmir’, since decades and decades has been synonymous with tourism, with April to October being the peak time for visitors.
State of the Tourism Industry in Kashmir today
Along with being beautifully blessed with natural beauty, breathtaking landscapes, some lip smacking food, warm and hospitable people and rich culture and heritage, Kashmir has always been a subject for controversy and political turmoil.
Constant border tensions, political disturbances and the aftermath of India’s massive move in August 2019 have taken a serious toll on the tourism industry in Kashmir. In addition to that, the national media portraying a negative image of the valley, the number of tourists has drastically decreased. As a result, in the last few years, Kashmir has seen a major decline in the number of tourists visiting the place year on year.
While tour operators and tourism officials believe that the violence is too localised to affect travellers, the tourists believe that any trouble is best avoided.
The state of the tourism industry in Kashmir has seen many ups and downs. Being a popular destination among tourists till the mid 1980s, the tourism industry saw a major drop in 1989 and till the mid 1990s. While the tourist flow increased after this, it again saw a major decline in 2002. Beginning 2003 and up until 2012, the tourism industry in Kashmir saw a steady growth with over a million tourists visiting every year. However, the number began declining again from 2013 and the ups and downs have continued since then.
While the industry may have seen several ups and downs, there is still plenty of hope that with the normalcy in the situation, the tourism industry in Kashmir too, will return back to its former glory.