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Gulmarg’s winter tourism suffers due to lack of snowfall

 Gulmarg’s winter tourism suffers due to lack of snowfall (file Pic) 

No skiing, snowboarding; hoteliers report 40% booking cancellations

Waris Fayaz

Srinagar, Jan 17 (KNO): Gulmarg, a renowned ski resort, is facing a setback as the tourist destination, like other parts of the valley, experiences an unprecedented dry spell. The absence of snow, a vital component for winter activities like skiing and snowmobiling, is impacting the livelihoods of local stakeholders.

Speaking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), local entrepreneurs, including ski rental shops and adventure tour operators, said they are grappling with economic challenges due to the dearth of snowfall.

Aqib Chaya, President of the Hotelier Association, expressed deep concern, saying approximately 40 percent of bookings have been cancelled. “The situation has created a dire scenario for local hoteliers. The bookings have been even for the upcoming months of February and March,” he said.

“The economic repercussions are not confined to businesses alone but are affecting the livelihoods of those directly involved in the tourism sector,” Aqib said, adding, “There is a ripple effect across the entire tourism ecosystem. The current situation in Gulmarg is worrisome. The lack of snow has significantly reduced the number of visiting tourists, impacting both revenue and the operational capacity of hotels adjusting to accommodate reduced guest numbers.”

Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, President of the Guides Association Gulmarg, said there has been a substantial 60 percent decline in bookings. This has affected local businesses and tour guides, he said.

“The lack of snow during this winter season has severely affected the tourism industry. The tourist guides and local businesses are facing a difficult period,” Lone lamented.

Skiers, who flock to Gulmarg for its iconic skiing experience, express apprehensions about the impact on their winter wonderland.

Waseem Bhat, an international skier, lamented the dearth of snowfall, saying this has disappointed athletes who are preparing for international competitions.

Jehangir Ahmed, the owner of the Third Pole Adventures Company in Gulmarg, said all ski slots booked until early February have been cancelled.

Adventure tour operators said they are eagerly waiting for snow.

Despite these challenges, stakeholders in Gulmarg said they remain hopeful for a snowy revival that will bring back the joy and thrill of winter sports to this iconic destination.

The tourism sector in Kashmir, which heavily relies on Gulmarg's popularity, contributes significantly to economic development, providing employment opportunities and supporting local businesses.

As per government data, Gulmarg welcomed an astounding 1.65 million tourists throughout 2023, surpassing the previous year’s mark of 15.4 lakhs.

The current dry spell has underscored the importance of sustainable measures to mitigate the impact on the region's vital tourism industry—(KNO)

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