Srinagar: Hundreds of tourists and locals thronged the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, for the New Year celebrations, but the dry weather played a dampener and disappointed many revelers.
"We had made plans for celebrating New Year in Gulmarg very early in the year. We had heard from our friends that it was the best place to be in winters and it truly is. We enjoyed a lot," Amit Banerjee from West Bengal said.
He said though the celebrations were "awesome", there was some disappointment as the weather played a spoilsport.
"We were expecting it to snow, but to our disappointment, the weather remained dry. It otherwise was awesome," he said.
Another tourist from Gujarat, Rati Lal, said welcoming the New Year amidst snow-capped mountains and meadows is a dream come true and he would love to visit the resort every year.
"We do not get to see snow. I am happy that I visited Gulmarg with my family. It is a dream come true," he said.
However, he said the snowfall could have made the experience much better.
"Gulmarg is famous for snow, so yes we were kind of disappointed as there was no fresh snowfall," Lal said.
Many events were organised by Tourism department as part of the celebrations.
The resort turned eco-friendly for the New Year bash as the first-ever environment friendly celebrations including a digital firecracker show was held.
There were cultural programmes, music performances and a performance by DJ Aki, along with other events aimed at entertaining the visitors.
The celebrations at Gulmarg were a part of 'Jashne Chillai-Kalan' (festivities for the 40-day harshest winter period) organized by the Tourism Department here with an aim to improve the image of the sector which was hit by the floods last year (in September).
The floods damaged the image of the tourism sector. Jashne Chillai-Kalan was an endeavour to improve our image and this in-house event at Gulmarg coincided with the New Year celebrations, Director Tourism Kashmir, Talat Pervez told a news agency.
Pervez said the department was making efforts to revive the sector fully after it received a set-back due to the deluge.
"The tourist arrivals took a dip after the floods. For that period of the year, Kashmir hosted more than 40,000 tourists per month, but the numbers dipped by 50 percent this year due the floods. There was a huge impact on the image of the sector, but we are making efforts to revive it and have been successful to a large extent," he said.
The director said the New Year celebration at Gulmarg, even though an annual feature, was a conscious effort to improve the image of the sector and revive it.
"We want to show that the situation in Kashmir was not bad as had been projected. We are holding local level events, interactions with tour operators outside the state and festivals to dispel the notion that Kashmir was not safe to travel after floods," he said.
Pervez said the department has also invited tour operators from outside to see for themselves what the Valley had to offer.
"We are on a vigorous publicity campaign for the promotion of tourism," he said, adding a series of programmes had been held to attract maximum tourists.
The director said the hotels in the resort saw occupancy of around 95 percent.