Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Kashmir has been chosen by travellers as the most preferred destination of the year in India.Travel firms Thomas Cook India and SOTC Travels asked opinions from over 4,000 people in many states in the country about their preferred travel destination. Most of them took the name of Kashmir.

According to the survey’s findings, Kashmir was the most preferred destination of travellers, followed by Leh, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, The Andamans and Nicobar Islands, and Kerala, while Dubai-Abu Dhabi, the Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, and Europe were the most preferred international destinations.

Thomas Cook is a travel service company spanning 25 countries and five continents. It has been recognised as the Best Travel Agency, the Best Outbound Tour Operator, and Leading Company with Cutting Edge Travel Innovation at the Times Silver Awards for Asia.

People in Jaipur, Indore, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Nagpur, Surat, Baroda, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Mysore, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Guwahati, Patna, and eight metros and mini-metros like Pune were surveyed by the companies.

These findings have come after Kashmir Valley witnessed high tourist arrivals in the winter season and till the onset of spring, until the second wave of Covid hit the Valley, and with it restrictions imposed on travel. At the time that happened, Kashmir hotels were booked till June. All the bookings were later cancelled.

The respondents in the survey expressed eagerness to travel after the easing of the Covid restrictions. Some even wished to travel as soon as the unlock takes place. Some 13 percent of the respondents said that they wished a stay of nearly two weeks in their travel plans, while 52 percent chose 6-12 days, and the rest chose between 3-5 days.

In Kashmir, the Tourism department had begun to make preparations for the start of tourism as the second wave wanes in the valley. Among many things, it has started courses which will focus on how to implement the protocols for safe tourism. Also, stakeholders in the tourism sector will be vaccinated on priority basis.

The survey has also shown that 52 percent of the respondents consider repeated sanitisation of their rooms and fully vaccinated hotel staff and drivers as a key requirement for their travel and accommodation.
Tourism has already started to pick up again in Kashmir Valley. It is said that more than 1,000 tourists, most of them domestic, have visited the valley in recent days.

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