Bed Capacity For Tourism Related Activity Reaches 60,000 In 2022
By Zaid Bin Shabir | Kashmir Observer
Srinagar- Despite two back to back lockdowns bringing life to a grinding halt, the tourism infrastructure, including hotels and guest houses in Kashmir Valley have witnessed a big leap over the last three years, as the bed capacity for tourism related activities has increased by 60,000 in the current year.
As per the data available with Kashmir Observer, over the last three years, Valley’s tourism infrastructure took a beneficial leap against the previous years as the room strength in the region recorded an addition of over 1100. This was among the facts emerging from the official tourism data that was accessed by Kashmir Observer.
The official data further reveals that in Kashmir valley there are about 1500 tourism infrastructures that are registered under J&K Tourism Department and are currently functional. Out of these 1500 infrastructures, 620 are the paying guest houses that are a new sight of attraction for the domestic and foreigner travelers arriving in Kashmir.
Talking to Kashmir Observer, Deputy Director (Registration) Tourism Kashmir, Alyaz Ahmad Nasir said that the tourism department’s new registration policy has attracted more and more people to apply for registration of new paying guest houses.
“We’ve taken necessary steps to ease out the registration process. The department has introduced a new scheme of approving new projects, the idea being, more and more people should earn their living through Kashmir’s tourism,” Nasir said.
The official further added that the only required document is the original documents verifying the identity of the property owner and building permission for carrying on the business of operating paying guest houses.
“Keeping in mind the welfare of society, individuals are granted permission to convert only 1-5 rooms of their residential property as a guest house. Our only demand is that the applicant and the property should be registered with the appropriate authority. That’s it, we don’t require anything else for registration,” the official added.
As per the data, Kashmir’s official bed capacity available for the tourism related activities has increased to 60,000 in the present year. Over 100 tents, currently registered under JKTDC, are available for locals, domestic tourists and foreign travelers in Gurez. Besides Gurez, the data further said that over 25 tented accommodations that are registered under the tourism department are currently operating in Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg areas of the valley.
“Tented accommodation and guest houses are becoming quite popular among domestic and foreign tourists. Recently, we’ve seen how hotels in the valley were fully occupied and that was the time when the government thought of encouraging paying guest houses and tents to accommodate the huge influx of tourists,” the Deputy Director told Kashmir Observer, adding that this rare side of tourism in Kashmir is also enhancing ecotourism and sustainability.
The available data also noted that the tourism department receives over 20 applications from individuals asking permission to set up new paying guest houses every day. Besides that, on a daily basis, the department also receives about 4 applications for registration of new travel agencies. As per the official record, there are about 2400 travel agents currently operating their business in Kashmir.
“The effect of the new registration policy that has enhanced the tourism infrastructure in Kashmir will be seen in two months from now. We’re also promoting a good infrastructure that can play a significant role in the holistic development of the economy,’ Nasir said, adding that the state-of-the-art infrastructure of hotels, paying guest houses and tents are indeed the most crucial elements which contribute towards the foundation of Kashmir’s tourism.
Notably, in an attempt to boost J&K’s Tourism, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha recently inaugurated 75 new OYO homestays in Jammu and Kashmir. Last month, LG had directed the officials to enhance the capacities of home-stays to 25,000 beds by 31st December this year and to identify tourist attractions where tented accommodation can be developed.
“Almost every day, we receive dozens of registration applications for new rooms, guest houses and tented accommodations. This is a holistic sign that Kashmir’s tourism is recovering from the damage caused by consecutive Covid-19 lockdowns and I’m pretty sure that in next 1-2 years our industry will generate only profits for the tourism stakeholders,” Nasir said, adding that the recent 3D laser show in Dal lake, road shows across India and opening of offbeat locations was a great deal for Kashmir’s tourism industry.