Aharbal tourist resort records footfall of 1 lakh tourists in last 6 months

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Expecting three times more footfall this year: Officials; Destination has huge potential to attract tourists, several initiatives taken-up: AD, Tourism Incharge Kulgam

Umaisar Gull Ganie

Tourist destination Aharbal, known for its gurgling waterfall and spell-casting mountains in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district is abuzz with tourists as around one lakh people have visited the destination in the past six months.

Aharbal waterfall is one of the 75 off-beat destinations of Jammu and Kashmir which has been the priority for Lieutenant Governor.

Figures accessed by the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) reveal that 97,309 visitors, which includes tourists as well as locals, have visited the place since January this year.

“2560 visited in the month of January, 12,880 in February month, 4,620 in March, 22,450 in April, in May 11,397 and in the month of June 43,402 people visited the destination,” figures said.

Figures said footfall of local visitors remains high during the six-months as more than 80 thousands visited the destination so far this year. “Of the total 97,309, the footfall of locals was high at 80,121, domestic count was at 17,179 and foreigners count was at 09 (nine),” figure states.

An official said that the huge footfall has been witnessed after two years of massive campaigning by district administration Kulgam, Tourism Department Kashmir, Aharbal Development Authority, Forest Division Kulgam through summer, Autumn and winter carnivals, sports activities and social media.

To develop Aharbal and boost tourism potential, the Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, Dr Bilal Mohi-Ud-Din Bhat (IAS) has made special efforts for its promotion through organising fest and festivals from last two years which has doubled its tourist footfall last year and expecting triple this year, he said.

Rehmat Maqbool, Assistant Director, Tourism Incharge Kulgam said tourist destination Aharbal is having huge potential to attract tourists and several initiatives have been taken up by the tourism department for its promotion and to boost the tourism sector in Kashmir.

“Adventure sports, summer, autumn and winter carnivals were held in Aharbal and promotions campaigns through other quarters like social media, calendars and booklets issued by District Administration Kulgam yielded the results,” she said.

Talking to KNO, CEO Ahrabal Development Authority (ADA), Galib Mohiuddin Shah emphasized that the government’s primary focus is on the tourism sector, and there has been a significant increase in tourists and they are expecting a massive increase in this year.

“There has been a rise in the arrival of foreign tourists as well,” he said.

In the first six months alone, we have already welcomed approximately one lakh tourists, comprising both domestic and foreign visitors, he added.

Addressing the issue of past suicides that occurred in Aharbal, he stated that they have taken measures to strengthen the fencing, implemented continuous monitoring of the site, and deployed the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to prevent any untoward incidents. As a result, suicides in this area have significantly decreased.

He said Aharbal is primarily a trekking resort, and they are also focusing on developing food options, public amenities and other essential facilities to enhance its growth and improve visitor experiences.

“In collaboration with the district administration Kulgam and tourism departments, we have organized winter carnivals to further promote this place and are striving to transform it into a year-round destination rather than just a seasonal spot,” Shah said.

He urged visitors to be mindful of littering and to utilize dustbins to maintain the cleanliness and vibrancy of this place

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