Gulmarg (Jammu and Kashmir), Feb 17 : The preparations for the Fifth National Winter Games, starting here from Monday, have been completed by the administration.
The State's tourist officials are hopeful that the games will upstage the State to winter tourism destination map.
"It is a mega event. Around 400 to 500 people are coming from various States to participate in this event. If this event is successful then the participating athletes will become our brand ambassadors, who will go back and tell the people in their States that they should visit this place at least once in their lifetime. I think it's a very big test for Jammu and Kashmir," said G.M. Dar, a tourist official.
Residents are highly excited about the event's return to Gulmarg after a gap of four years.
"This national-level game is a hot topic of discussion in Gulmarg these days and people are very happy," said Mansoor Ahmed, a resident.
The National Winter Games are being organised for the third time at Gulmarg, about 55 kilometres from Srinagar. Gulmarg has hosted this event in 1998 and 2004.
Different sporting events will take place in the next five days, starting from February 18 till February 22.
As many as 17 teams, including Jammu and Kashmir's team, are participating in the event.
Other teams are from Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, New Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, besides the teams of the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indian Navy and the Indian Army.
The events to be held during the sports carnival include slalom, giant slalom and snowboard in alpine skiing, freestyle (men and women) in cross-country, figure skating, speed skating (men and women) and ice hockey for men in skating rink category.
Tourism is the mainstay of Kashmir's economy with Gulmarg contributing a major chunk and the games events like this will help in generating much needed employment in the State.