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As Kashmir marks 10-year tourist boom, selfies, shikaras & pherans help make memories

J&K tourism department data says over 3.5 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir in the last three months. This number is expected to go up in the coming months.

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Srinagar: Serpentine queues at the airport’s baggage claim, families waiting at Dal Lake to hop onto a shikara, couples posing in traditional Kashmiri attire at Nishat Bagh, a bustling Lal Chowk, packed restaurants, fully booked hotels — the Kashmir Valley is seeing a rush of tourists, with local authorities describing it as the biggest footfall in 10 years.

Despite apprehensions about the security situation, for many tourists, their first visit to the Valley is a “dream come true”. These tourists have flocked to the Valley in groups, along with their families, from across the country.

“This is a dream. Are we really in Kashmir?” said Praveena Darshan from Mumbai, posing in front of the clock tower at Lal Chowk. “It is like a dream come true. I always wanted to visit Kashmir and, finally, we mustered the courage to do so. This was the best decision ever. This is heaven on earth,” she said. “Moreover, so much security around is very reassuring. We feel safe.”

According to data available with the J&K tourism department, over 3.5 lakh tourists have visited Kashmir in the last three months. This number is expected to go up in the coming months. As many as 6.6 lakh tourists from across the country visited the Valley in 2021, a considerable increase from 41,000 in 2020.

J&K has been witnessing a considerable decline in tourist footfall since 2019, following the scrapping of Article 370. The decline was further accelerated by Covid restrictions, which dealt another blow to the Valley’s bustling tourism industry.

“We have not seen such a footfall in the last 10 years, since 2012. Our data shows that this has been a bumper season for us,” said Dr G.N. Itoo, Director of Kashmir Tourism.

“Every season we get around 50,000 tourists on average, and now, in just three months, we have over 3 lakh. People are now confident that it is safe to travel to Kashmir,” he added. “Our initiatives for boosting tourism have borne fruit. The local traders, businessmen who depend on tourism, and Kashmir’s economy, will get a big boost.”

A group of women from Mumbai poses for a picture at Lal Chowk in Srinagar | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A group of women from Mumbai poses for a picture at Lal Chowk in Srinagar | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Artists from Delhi find the perfect picture to draw at Srinagar's Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Artists from Delhi find the perfect picture to draw at Srinagar’s Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists from Bengaluru at Lal Chowk in Srinagar | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists from Bengaluru at Lal Chowk in Srinagar | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A production crew member from Mumbai unwinds at Lal Chowk | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A production crew member from Mumbai unwinds at Lal Chowk | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A CRPF trooper on patrol at Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A CRPF trooper on patrol at Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists from Uttar Pradesh at Srinagar's Nishat Bagh | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists from Uttar Pradesh at Srinagar’s Nishat Bagh | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Creating memories at Tulip Garden in Srinagar | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Creating memories at Tulip Garden in Srinagar | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists decked up in traditional Kashmiri attire at Tulip Garden | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists decked up in traditional Kashmiri attire at Tulip Garden | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A happy flock at Tulip Garden | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A happy flock at Tulip Garden | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists in queue at Srinagar airport, all set to explore the beautiful Valley | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists in queue at Srinagar airport, all set to explore the beautiful Valley | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A shikara model greets passengers waiting by baggage claim at Srinagar airport | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A shikara model greets passengers waiting by baggage claim at Srinagar airport | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists lounging on a shikara at Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Tourists lounging on a shikara at Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
CRPF personnel at Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
CRPF personnel at Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A CRPF water wing boat patrolling the Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A CRPF water wing boat patrolling the Dal Lake | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

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