As summer sets in the Gurez Valley, locals are all set to welcome tourists this year as they have opened up their homes for the tourist stay and arranged tent accommodation for them as the government scrambles to attract more tourists to this pristine valley by organizing promotional events – the Gurez Festival being one such event.
In recent years, the Gurez Valley has experienced a considerable increase in tourist numbers. In order to improve the availability of accommodation for incoming tourists, the administration of Bandipora, in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and the military, has focused on spreading the concept of homestay and accommodation. tent accommodation to preserve local traditions and ecological balance.
This year, reservations can be made through popular tourist websites, including MakeMyTrip and Goibibo.
The officials said that in order to enhance the participation of the main stakeholders, namely the local population, and to make them partners in the future growth of the tourism sector, the administration invited application forms from all households wishing to provide their accommodation in the form of a homestay to tourists. in order to get additional economic benefits on the one hand and on the other hand tourists enjoy homestay, enjoying and experiencing the local culture and lifestyle, as such being a win-win situation for both.
Till date, about 15 home stays have been established and are receiving good response from visitors bringing them economic prosperity. The Civil Administration has been actively coordinating with the Department of Tourism to facilitate homestay owners with the required process of registration, housekeeping, skills development and best practices, to provide a complete experience to tourists.
Last week, Afsara guesthouse at Kanzalwan village, the first homestay for tourists in Gurez Valley, welcomed the first group of tourists to the guesthouse. “The locals’ hard work finally paid off as Kanzalwan’s first homestay, ‘The Afsara Homestay’ attracted guests.
In addition, the civil administration involved educated local unemployed youths to establish tent accommodation, in which six locations were identified in the first phase for the same.
So far, 20 permits have been granted for local people to establish tent accommodation and earn a living. Accommodation tents with a capacity of about 300 people have been created and others are being built. The administration has started working with the Department of Tourism and the Department of Skills Development to provide the basic skills of tourism trade and hospitality to these young people.
Apart from infrastructural development and logistical support, the district administration, in conjunction with various other departments including the military, organizes promotional events inviting prominent celebrities and entertainers to attract more tourists.
Last year, the district administration launched an online campaign under the hashtag #goGurez in which visitors shared their thoughts, experiences and photos and videos to attract others. Several other festivals have been held so far to showcase the local traditions of the Dard tribe.
This week, the Gurez festival was also launched jointly by the district administration, the tourism department and the military who will attend a series of events from June 1 to June 16. Besides a cricket and volleyball tournament, a trek to the heights of Disssan, Anamita Khan concert, Jashne-e-Gurez Movie Night, Village Games and Dard Shin Festival and Nari Shakti trek are the choice of the group during of the celebration of the festival which lasts fifteen days.
Prominent celebrities Sunil Shetty, Milind Suman and other Bollywood actors are also expected to visit Gurez Valley this year.