Bandipora- As the summer sets in Gurez valley, the locals are all set to welcome the tourists this year as they have opened their homes for the tourist stay and arranging tented accommodations for them while the government is making efforts to attract more tourists to this virgin valley by organizing promotional events- Gurez festival being one of these events.
From the past few years, the Gurez Valley has witnessed a considerable increase in footfall of tourists. In order to enhance the availability of accommodation for the incoming tourists, the Bandipora Administration in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Army has been focusing on propagating the concept of Home stay and tented accommodation to preserve the local traditions and ecological balance.
This year the bookings can be done through popular tourism websites including MakeMyTrip and Goibibo.
Officials said in order to enhance participation of the main stakeholders i.e local population and to make them partners in the future growth of tourism sector, administration has invited application forms from all those households who want to provide their accommodation with the form of home stay to tourists so as to get additional economic benefits on one hand and the other hand tourists enjoy the home stay, enjoying and experiencing the local culture and lifestyle, as such being win-win situation for both.
Till date around 15 home stays have been established and are receiving a good response from the visitors bringing them economic prosperity. The civil administration has been actively coordinating with the Tourism department for facilitating the home stay owners with requisite process of registration, housekeeping, skill up gradation and best practices, so as to provide a whole experience to the tourists.
Last week- Afsara Guest House at Kanzalwan Village- first home stay accommodation for tourists in Gurez valley welcomed the first batch of tourists at the guest house. “The hard work of locals finally fructified as the first homestay of Kanzalwan, ‘The Afsara Homestay’ has attracted guests.
Further civil administration has involved local unemployed educated youth for establishing tented accommodation, wherein six locations have been identified in the first phase for the same.
Till now, 20 numbers of permissions have been granted in favour of the local population for establishing tented accommodation and to earn their livelihood. Tented accommodation having capacity of around 300 persons has been established and more are in progress. Administration has started in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Skill Development Department for providing basic skills of tourist trade and hospitality to these youths.
Besides infrastructural development and logistic support, the District Administration in collaboration with various other departments including Army is organizing promotional events inviting celebrities and prominent artists to attract more tourists.
Last year, the District Administration launched an online campaign under hashtag #goGurez wherein the visitors shared their thoughts, experiences and the pictures and videos to attract others. Several other festivals have been organised so far to showcase the local traditions of the Dard tribe.
This week Gurez Festival was also launched jointly by the District Administration, Tourism Department and Army that will witness a range of events from June 1 to June 16. Besides a cricket and volleyball tournament, a trek to Disssan heights, Anamita Khan’s concert, Jashne-e-Gurez Movie Night, Village Games and Dard Shin Festival and Nari Shakti trek are the pick of the bunch during the celebration of the fortnight long festival.
Prominent celebrities Sunil Shetty, Milind Suman and other bollywood actors are also expected to visit the Gurez Valley this year.