It was a bit of respite from a long dry spell this winter with higher reaches receiving light to moderate snowfall and plains lashed with rains. The forty days Chila e Kalan, the harshest part of winter passed off without any rains or snow triggering a massive concerns for its consequences in upcoming summer. The glaciers had receded to an extreme level and the water bodies were almost dried up.
Forget about the usage of water for agricultural and other purposes, people were craving for regular drinking water. The rains have also been missed for several months which has led to impacting our horticulture industry. While there is no better hope for the upcoming cropping season unless Kashmir witnesses a major snowfall to recharge our water bodies and glaciers, the future of agriculture and horticulture is uncertain. That is what Kashmir is hoping for in upcoming weeks.
However, this snowfall that covered the top tourism destinations like Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam have brought a smile on the faces of tourists and those associated with the trade. This has restored the winter tourism activities which had come to a grinding halt due to absence of snow.
Thousands are associated with tourism industry and it has a significant 7 per cent contribution to UT,’s GDP. But it’s major potential is yet to be explored at its fullest. The successive regimes have confined winter tourism to Gulmarg only and is now expanding to Sonamarg. But it is only allowing non local tourists to explore the opportunities to enjoy since it is not possible for all locals to visit Gulmarg and Sonamarg for taking part in these recreational activities.
Let government choose a model from Russia, America and other European countries which share the geography with this region and introduce better and more engaging models of winter tourism. There is a lot more to explore to make Kashmir more engaging and attractive tourism spot in winters.
Once such expansion takes place only Srinagar and Kashmir in general can become a hub of tourism and can help its economy to grow. After agriculture and horticulture industry, Tourism is instrumental in wheeling Kashmir’s economy.