By opening of Nagin Valley, near Gulmarg (about 10 Kms), Kashmir for tourism, the Govt. of Kashmir has sent out a strong signal - that militancy and terrorism is on wane and a thing of past now.
The opening of this beautiful virgin, pristine valley is nearly after near 2 decades of it being closed to the tourists. This is expected to lure the adventure lovers to the state and also decongest Gulmarg.
Nagin valley, also called Bota Pathri, is to be positioned as an eco-tourism travel destination. For 2 decades it was under the grip of high militancy.
New destinations for tourism are required in Kashmir due to the highest number of tourists ever, last year.
Reports sugges 1.3 million visited Kashmir last year. This year expecation is of 2 million tourists.
Those in tourist trade are talking about 70% footfall increase, year on year. All this has led to a high congestion in the currently open popular destinations like Pahalgam, Srinigar and Gulmarg.
The Govt. of Kashmir is engaged in smart marketing, trying to position Kashmir as an all year around destination like Goa, not just restricted to summer months. Nagin valley opening is expected to boost adventure sport in India. Furthermore, Golf tourism is one idea that the state Govt. is quite gungho about. Another is mountain biking.
Outside Srinagar, however the hotel rooms are not available in plenty. Hence Nagin valley opening will also fit in to lure the tourists from Gulmarg and Pahalgam - the other two popular destinations.
At the time of this writing, a week's package including airfare from Delhi costs about $ 500 per person with 3 or 4 star hotel accommodation.
As the demand for Kashmir holiday packages was high this year, new destinations are being sought in Kashmir. Nagin Valley is virgin, pristine place to visit. Infrastructure there is environment friendly.
The profile of traveller to Kashmir has expanded beyond the North Indians - you can often spot tourists from South India, Gujarat or Maharashtra.
So, what has ushered in this change? Improved relations with Pakistan, USA's pressure on Pakistan after Osama was killed, Indian army's success against militants and some smart moves by the Omar Abdullah - all of these have contributed in their fair bit.
Current focus of the state administration is to lure the domestic tourists - the international tourists are expected to make a beeline for the state once their own economies revive and as the word spreads around that all is well with Kashmir and it is now safe to visit Kashmir.