Record Number of Tourists Flock to Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Boosting Local Economies

This surge is attributed to the snowfall in the mountains. Tourism authorities are optimistic about surpassing previous records, but experts warn about the environmental consequences of unregulated tourism in the Himalayan region.

Srajan Girdonia
New Update
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Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have experienced a significant increase in tourist arrivals over the past six months, with snowfall in the mountains attracting visitors from near and far. The surge in tourism has brought new hope to these regions, boosting local economies and rejuvenating the tourism industry.

Surge in Tourist Arrivals: Kashmir Welcomes 10 Lakh while, Himachal Pradesh Receives 75 Lakh in 6 Months

In a remarkable development, more than 4 lakh tourists flocked to Kashmir in the month of June alone, surpassing last year's figures of 3.3 lakh visitors during the same period. In the last six months, Kashmir has witnessed over 10 lakh tourists, signifying a significant increase compared to the previous year. Himachal Pradesh, on the other hand, has welcomed a staggering 75 lakh tourists during this period, with the allure of snow-covered mountains drawing visitors from all corners of the country.

High Hopes for Kashmir Tourism as More Than 4 Lakh Tourists Visit in June

Raza Yakub, director of the Kashmir Tourism Department, expressed delight at the record-breaking numbers. He announced that this year's tourist influx has already exceeded expectations, and he projects that over 20 million tourists will visit Kashmir in 2023. With these promising figures, Yakub aims to surpass last year's record of 1.88 crore tourists, making it the highest number of visitors in the past three decades. Tourism plays a vital role in Kashmir's economy, contributing 6.98% to the region's overall economic output.

Yakub attributes the increase in tourist arrivals to the successful hosting of the G-20 in Srinagar in May. Following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the removal of Section 370, the tourism industry in Kashmir faced challenges due to curfews and uncertainties. However, recent developments have sparked new hope among hoteliers and tourism operators. With the momentum gained from the G-20 event, the number of tourists is steadily rising, rejuvenating the local economy and creating new opportunities for employment.

South Indian and Foreign Tourists Flock to Kashmir

Notably, there has been a significant rise in the number of foreign tourists visiting Kashmir. In 2022, over 8,000 foreign tourists experienced the beauty of the valley. In the first half of 2023, that number has already reached 20,000, with an increase in visitors from Australia and Britain. While previously, tourists primarily hailed from Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Kolkata, a growing number of tourists from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu are now exploring the picturesque landscapes of Kashmir. 

Manzoor Ahmad Pakhtun, Vice Chairman of the House Boat Association in Kashmir, expressed his enthusiasm over the surge in tourist arrivals this year. Shikara operators and hoteliers are witnessing full bookings, indicating a positive turnaround for the local economy. The return of tourists brings joy and hope to the people of Kashmir, who rely heavily on tourism-related activities for their livelihoods.

Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh Enjoy Tourism Boost

Uttarakhand has seen a substantial number of tourists visiting popular destinations such as Nainital and Mussoorie. By the end of June, Nainital had received 8 lakh tourists, while Mussoorie welcomed 7 lakh visitors. Additionally, the Chardham Yatra attracted 25 lakh devotees, contributing to a total of 40 lakh visitors in Uttarakhand. The tourism industry in the state has surpassed 1000 crores in revenue, marking a significant boost to the local economy.

Himachal Pradesh has also witnessed a surge in tourist arrivals, with 75 lakh visitors exploring its breathtaking landscapes. The presence of snowfall during the summer season has enticed more tourists to the region. While traditional tourist sites remain popular, half of the visitors are venturing to religious places. The government's tax exemption for home stay units has further fueled their popularity, resulting in a rapid increase in their numbers.

Sustainable Tourism in the Himalayas: A Need for Regulation and Conservation

While the tourism boom brings economic benefits, it also highlights the importance of sustainable tourism practices in the Himalayan region. The fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas is susceptible to various disasters, including floods, landslides, and earthquakes. Unregulated tourism poses significant environmental challenges, including overuse of water, greenhouse gas emissions, changing land use patterns, and biodiversity losses. To mitigate these impacts, experts recommend regulated tourism practices, vigilance and patrolling in protected areas, early warning systems, regional cooperation, and the promotion of ecotourism.

As tourism continues to thrive in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, stakeholders must work together to ensure the preservation of these pristine regions for future generations. By implementing sustainable tourism practices and promoting responsible travel, these popular destinations can continue to captivate visitors while preserving their natural beauty and cultural heritage.