Unprecedented rush brings more investments into Kashmir hospitality

Why Kashmir, you might ask, as a venue for a G20 deliberation? The more obvious question is, why not?

As a gathering on tourism with experts from numerous countries, mostly comprising advanced destinations, and others aspiring to be recognized as contributors to global tourism, Kashmir becomes a most obvious choice! It has, so to say, the first claim to being a destination of choice. For years, it has been the most favourite among Indian destinations, then it fell through to terror attacks, fuelled by a sinister and restless neighbour, and only now is emerging, once again as the first tourism destination in our country. Post covid, the Kashmir Valley has registered a most impressive growth in domestic numbers.

Kashmir has in recent years, witnessed a most steady growth in airline connectivity, not just from Delhi but from a growing number of Indian cities. It has seen an impressive growth in city infrastructure, seen the addition of branded hotels. Not just Srinagar and Gulmarg, new destinations like Pahalgam have attracted newer tourists – not just for leisure but also for golf, MICE, and religious tourism. Investments into tourism are significant, and given the present indications, branded supply is poised for significant growth. The last two years has seen a huge investment into the social sector, enabling the local community to dream big, grow out of the shadows of threats of terrorism.

The announcement of G20 venues, and meetings thereof, has resulted in makeover of some 50 cities across India. This augurs well for these destinations, which include destinations like Udaipur, Kumarakon, Rann of Kutch and of course, Srinagar. These were needed to propel them into world class destinations. Understandably, G20 will become the enabling steps towards this bold ambition.

So, for Kashmir, this event being the first after the abrogation of Article 370, is also a political statement for the government. It was a mandate that the ruling party had promised in their manifesto; there was no hidden agenda, and it was accomplished most directly by the central government. That it took a decision to make the state into a UT is best left to its better judgement on how to manage the state, in terms of law and order, and larger integration with the rest of the country. That a country or two did not register for the event is not worthy of discussion; it is pointless for us, as a nation. The only moot point remains on when the centre calls for elections in the state; it has been repeatedly pointed out, as and when the situation permits, and there the matter should rest. The earlier the better, one can say, to get on with the job, for the next stage in bringing normalcy in the lives of the people. Over the recent years, it must be said, there does appear more prosperity in the valley, even as you drive through, it is there to witness.

That much for politics, back to tourism! Kashmir was showcased most effectively. The destination in all its splendour – music, arts, cuisine, handicrafts, recreation, and golf. Not just for MICE at the noteworthy SKICC Convention centre, situated right on the fabled Dal Lake; also, for film tourism and for leisure. One can only hope these are the start of yet another new era for peace and prosperity through tourism, which has been the traditional mainstay of the local economy.

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