New Delhi, March 27: After last month's drop due to curfew and general strikes early this month, the tourists seem to have returned to Kashmir and buoyed by this the government advanced opening of Tulip garden on the banks of Dal Lake.
Asia's largest Tulip garden, with over 80 varieties of the exotic flower, was thrown open to visitors today. This marks the beginning of the new tourism season in the Valley. Last week the state government had set March 29 as the date of opening the renovated garden. But the number of tourists for this long weekend forced the change of dates.
The 15-hectare garden in the foothills of Zabarwan Range was officially opened to visitors by Minister for Floriculture Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed.
Last Sunday, Minister for Tourism Gulam Ahmad Mir had said that ‘tourism is nobody's enemy but the backbone of the state's economy'. He had appealed to the stakeholders to play a positive role towards creating a ‘feasible atmosphere in the state to attract more tourists.'
"There is no reduction in tourist flow expected as cancellations have not been reported from any side," the Tourism Minister had said.
A large number of people including tourists thronged the garden immediately after its opening on Wednesday to enjoy the myriad view of tulips, officials said.
The state Floriculture department said a total of over 1.5 million tulips, of over 80 varieties are presently in bloom at the garden.
The department has added 3.24 lakh more bulbs of 24 new varieties this season to make the garden more attractive.
"The bulbs have been imported from Holland and have been introduced in the Valley for the first time," officials said.
Meanwhile, supporting the minister's claim is the fact that there has been no reduction in number of flights, with 17 to 18 flights a day operating during the current month. The frequency of the flights will increase to about 38 in April and May.
Even on the political front, there is a good news. The Chairmen of both the factions of - Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of Hurriyat Conference have appealed to the people to ensure safety of tourists and provide hospitality as per Kashmir's traditions.