Snow Turnaround


(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)

The recurrent snowfall in February has brought much-needed relief to the region, marking a welcome end to a prolonged dry spell that adversely affected the tourism industry and boded ill for affected farmers, fruit and vegetable growers during the year ahead.
The snow turnaround has changed all this and brought glad tidings for both tourism and agriculture.

The tourism sector, a vital component of Kashmir's economy, had been languishing due to a lack of snow. But snowfall
has breathed new life back into this industry, with key resorts like Gulmarg and Pahalgam once again experiencing a massive tourist rush. All hotels in Gulmarg are once again booked until March. Significantly, snow is bringings foreign tourists to the Valley.

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Last year, as per official figures, 55,000 foreign tourists visited Kashmir. Total number of tourists in the year was over one crore. This year, the administration in J&K is eyeing 2.50 crore tourist arrivals including record number of foreign guests as well.

Despite the challenges posed by cold wave conditions, the snowfall has kindled hopes for a revival in business. Hoteliers across the Valley, buoyed by the prospect of increased tourist footfall, are optimistic about better occupancy rates in the days ahead.

Snow has also brought one of the world's most celebrated cricketers, our very own Sachin Tendulkar. During his stay, he hasn't confined himself to hotels or restricted himself to spending time in the breathtaking snow-bound landscape but met the common people, fans, visited bat-manufacturing units and played crickets in the open grounds. His visit has been a great advertisement for the Valley's tourism industry and is certain to draw many more holidaymakers to the Valley.

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To think that a month ago, the situation in the Valley looked quite bleak: Kashmir
experienced an unexpected snowless 40-day period of chilla kalan with bright blue skies and sun-soaked days. While the warmth may have been welcome, beneath the surface, a quiet concern brewed, as the absence of snowfall threatened to cast a long shadow over the upcoming summer. It raised alarm for the local economy, as depleted glaciers would have
led to diminished river flows, impacting,
in turn, farming activities and power generation.

Heavy snow in winter helps in the glacier formation which in turn charges up the Valley's water bodies through summer. So a dry winter signals trouble. More so, at a time when the Valley's major glaciers have shown marked signs of depletion in recent decades. Biggest of them is the Kolahai glacier, whose area, according to a study, has retreated to 11.24 square kilometers from 13.87 sq kms since 1976.

As they say, all's well that ends well. Snowfall in February will hopefully go some way to plug the shortfall in December and January. We can optimistically look forward to a prospect of a bountiful tourism season and a bumper agricultural output during spring and summer.

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