Sonamarg Thrown Open For Tourists

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SRINAGAR: Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Baseer Ahmad Khan on Thursday inaugurated a one-day Sonamarg winter festival that witnessed the participation of hundreds of locals and tourists. During the festival,  various colourful activities and cultural programmes were performed.

Tourists throng snow-draped Sonamarg as it was reopened after remaining closed for 4 months on Thursday 25 February 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

During the day-long event, various snow sports activities including skiing, snow sledge, snow biking, etc. were held in which athletes from various districts participated enthusiastically.

The event also witnessed various colourful cultural items presented by the renowned artists of the valley and scintillating performances by famous singers who enthralled the audience with various traditional folk and cultural shows.

The one-day Sonamarg winter festival was organised by the Directorate of Tourism Kashmir in collaboration with district administration Ganderbal, Sonamarg Development Authority, Hoteliers’ Association Sonamarg, NIEL and NHIDCL.

Baseer Khan, Advisor to the Lt Governor, while speaking on the occasion complimented all stakeholders for making it possible to open Sonamarg destination in the month of February which usually opens in the month of April. He said that with the increase in tourist footfall in the Valley, the decision was taken to reopen Sonamarg so that tourists get to see one more winter destination which is as beautiful as Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

While highlighting the various initiatives taken for promotion of the tourism sector in J&K which had been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that in the backdrop of the directions passed by the Lt Governor with regard to the revival of the tourism industry, a series of activities have been convened to ensure that tourism-related activities are conducted to promote local tourism adding that LG is very particular in exploring other tourist destinations in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir with an aim to make it a tourist hub and boost the economy of the UT, he added. He said that Tourism has a positive impact on the economy of Kashmir as it gives impetus to various allied sectors like handicrafts, handlooms and horticulture.

He also sought the cooperation of all stakeholders in ensuring that the best services are offered to the tourists for the development of the tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Shafqat Iqbal in his opening remarks welcomed all the participants and said that the main aim of the event is to promote Sonamarg as another winter destination saying that with the commissioning of the Escape tunnel of Z-morh tunnel, Sonamarg as a Tourist destination shall now be open during winters as well. He said all stakeholders shall be upgrading their infrastructure and services to cope with the harsh weather conditions of Sonamarg during winters.

While expressing satisfaction over the successful conduct of the event, Director Tourism Kashmir Dr. G N Itoo said that revival of the Tourism sector in J&K which had been adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic was only possible due to the concerted efforts of the UT Administration adding that Tourism Department has taken series of promotional programmes to revive the tourism sector and arrangements have also been made for the opening of Tulip Garden and Badamwari. He said that several initiatives are being taken for promoting camping tourist destinations in the Valley.

Earlier, the Advisor also inspected the stalls displaying traditional art, crafts, ethnic cuisine, street food, etc which had been set up by various departments including Animal Husbandry, Khadi & Village Industries, Tourism, Handicrafts, Forest, Fisheries, Horticulture, Floriculture and other Private Entrepreneurs to showcase their unique products.

Among others, SSP Ganderbal, Khalil Poswal, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Farooq Ahmad Baba, SDM Kangan, CPO, CEO, SDA, Hoteliers Sonamarg Association, officers of civil administration and tourists in large numbers attended the one day winter festival.

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