Srinagar: Tourist flow to Kashmir has increased by 30 per cent as festival season is just around the clock.
Next month, Durga Puja will be celebrated across India, which will be followed by Chhath Puja and Diwali in the month of November.
As such backpackers across the country are booking tour packages to Kashmir, which historically has been witnessing a peak time of tourism during festival season.
Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo, a renowned travel agent and former president of Travel Agents of Kashmir said the demand has gone up by 30 percent in last few weeks.
He is anticipating the demand to go up by 50 per cent in coming weeks when few days will be left for puja across the country.
“Right now, we get a good number of inquiries from tourists across the country. Travel agents continue to receive calls from customers in anticipation of the holiday season despite the fact that tourism is currently in a kind of off-season,” Kuthoo said.
He said backpackers from West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat are the prospective visitors to Kashmir during Puja holidays.
“We usually witness a good flow of tourists from West Bengal during the month of October. Tourists from Maharashtra, Gujarat mostly visit during the Diwali time. We expect the bookings by tourists will go up by 50 percent in coming weeks,” Kuhtoo said.
Notably, 2023 has proved a yet another successful year of tourism year as 1.6crore tourists visited the valley so far.
As per the details shared by the Tourism Department 1.6 crore tourists visited the valley in the last eight months including 3100 foreign tourists.
Last year, which was the revival of Kashmir tourism after pandemic, saw 26.73 lakh tourists visiting Kashmir.
From religious tours to the celebration of festivals as per local pandit rituals, travel agents have made special arrangements for tourists visiting during Puja holidays.
“We have many historic temples here and the tourists will be taken to these places to perform Puja. We have framed packages, that allow tourists to perform their religious duties during their stay in Kashmir, ” said Saqib Ahmad Khan, a travel agent.
Pertinently, the government is promoting religious tourism in Jammu and Kashmir as 75 tourist destinations have been earmarked to enhance religious tourism in the union territory.