God has poured a draught of beauty from his most favoured cup into the dusty ground of Jammu and Kashmir. The honey-dyed orchards, rippling lakes, and azure skies urge every soul to enjoy the myriad delights that the mountains blanketed in snow and valleys have to offer in all seasons.
Besides being acclaimed for its scenic beauty and hospitality of people, tourism in J&K has received remarkable impetus for its distinctive features like diverse physical terrain, pleasant climate, exotic cuisine, distinct socio-cultural ethos, archeological sites, magnificent lakes, ideal spots for adventure sports and the region’s rich natural resources.
Tourism is among the fastest-growing globally and reflecting on Jammu and Kashmir‘s remarkable strides in the past year, the region saw an unprecedented success in 2023, welcoming a record-breaking 2.02 crore tourists and over 50 thousand foreign visits.
In 2023, Jammu and Kashmir became a global tourism hub, with a focus on various tourism offerings including MICE tourism. Hosting key events, including the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting and the Miss Universe press conference, showcased the region’s international recognition. The launch of Mercedes Benz’s electric vehicles in Gulmarg and the interest from international cricketers and golfing enthusiasts further emphasized J&K’s appeal for both adventure and luxury seekers.
A paradise for adventure enthusiasts
Jammu and Kashmir is not just a destination for those seeking tranquillity; it is also a haven for adventure enthusiasts. The region’s diverse physical terrain provides an ideal playground for a wide range of adventure sports.
From skiing and Gondola rides down the snow-covered slopes in winter to exhilarating trekking expeditions in summer, there is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities to indulge. Drawing backpackers from around the world, Jammu and Kashmir became a hotspot for adventure seekers in 2023, to explore the region’s diverse landscapes, which includes over 100 alpine lakes and trekking routes. The surge visits for adventure activities elevated Jammu and Kashmir’s profile as a sought-after destination for sports and adventure enthusiasts.
Beyond the conventional tourist hotspots
While the scenic landscapes and popular activities continue to captivate visitors, there has been a notable shift in tourist interests in Jammu and Kashmir.
Travellers are now embracing the opportunity to explore off-beat destinations such as Gurez, Bangus, Basohli, Sanasar, and more places leading to an enhanced influx of tourists in these hidden gems. The art, culture, and culinary offerings, as part of experiential tourism offering of the region have also garnered increased interest, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the local traditions and flavours.
Bollywood in Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir served as the filming location for over 72 films in the past year, attracting notable movie industries from across the country. The stunning landscapes and vibrant culture of the region have once again captured the imagination of filmmakers, reviving the cinematic magic that Jammu and Kashmir is known for.
Niche tourism experiences
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a surge in niche tourism offerings, catering to the varied interests of travellers. Golf tourism has seen a new stride, attracting enthusiasts to experience the world-class golf courses including the Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar, Sidhra Golf Course in Jammu and more.
Additionally, rural and border tourism have gained prominence, with homestay facilities providing an authentic and immersive experience. Border tourism has gained impetus in Jammu and Kashmir, with visitors expressing a preference for exploring the beautiful regions such as Keran, Teetwal, Suchetgarh, Dawar and more places that lie on the border. Familiarisation tours in areas like Keran, have not only diversified the tourist experience but also contributed to the economic development of these lesser-explored areas.
Also, Jammu and Kashmir gained impetus in 2023 as a premier wedding destination, providing an ideal backdrop for perfect wedding shoots and offering upscale hospitality and luxury accommodations. People from across the globe seeking a dreamy celebration of their big day chose J&K as the ideal setting.
J&K is currently experiencing a revival in the tourism industry, marked by a commitment to safety and sustainability in meeting the travel requirements of the visitors and providing a gateway into experiences to be cherished for a lifetime.
As one contemplates the next getaway, considering a visit to Jammu and Kashmir is a must, where the symphony of nature’s beauty harmonises with the warmth exuded by its hospitable people.
The author is the Secretary of Tourism & Culture, designated with the Govt of J&K.
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