Among 22,000 arrivals this year so far, Malaysia, Thai nationals among foreign guests
Srinagar, May 08: Unmindful of tough travel advisories issued by their respective countries barring their visit to Kashmir, the foreign tourists from South-East Asia region, especially Malaysia and Thailand continue to keep their date with the Valley.
The arrival of foreign guests, according to tour operators, can set tone for at least a good tourist season this year that otherwise remained marred since 2016 summer uprising.
As per official figures, almost 22,000 foreign tourists visited Kashmir between January to April. The data suggest there has been an increase in number of foreign tourist arrivals each month this year so far.
While 2480 foreigners visited the Valley in January this year, the footfall witnessed double increase with 4506 foreign tourists that visited the Valley in February.
“Despite the travel advisories issued after February 14 Pulwama attack, some tourists especially from Malaysia and Thailand did not cancel their visit to the Valley and went ahead with their itinerary,” said Irshad Ahmad, a tour operator told KNO.
“Travel advisories issued by Malaysia and Thailand on Kashmir came as a surprise as these countries are quite optimistic on the Valley despite negative media portrayal,” said Ahmad.
In March, 6,432 foreign tourists visited the Valley while as during the Tulip bloom in April, the foreign footfall increased to 8,167 most of whom were Malaysians and Thai nationals.
“Our expectations that our promotional events in these countries will make arrivals almost double have not been fulfilled. While there has been mass cancellation but arrivals did not stop completely,” said Ahmad.
Director, Tourism Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani told KNO despite “negative portrayal” of Kashmir, robust promotional activity by the department has continued to attract tourists especially from Thailand and Malaysia.
“A lot of hardwork put together by private stakeholders and the department has helped to ensure that the influx of tourists which was hit by the prevailing situation is revived to some extent,” Wani said.
While last year 13000 Malaysians had visited the Valley, according to official figures, among foreign tourist arrivals to Kashmir in 2017, Malaysians topped the list with 6100 followed by 4000 tourists from Thailand.