Srinagar: It is almost like the good old days and much before the world knew of social media or Google. A popular choice of holidays-goers from across the globe, Kashmir aka ‘Paradise on earth’ topped the list of most-searched vacation destinations in India on Google’s ‘Year in Search’ list 2019.

According to the list, Kashmir, Shillong and Munnar have been the top three most-searched vacation destinations in India. The other destinations, mostly the choice of backpackers, include Auli, Spiti Valley, Cherrapunji, Kotagiri, Kinnaur, Tirthan Valley and New Delhi.

Google Trends is made on the basis of a graph that shows a relative frequency of any search term over time on a scale of zero to 100. Hundred represents the pinnacle.

Kashmir, this year witnessed lowest flow of tourists as the entire valley was hit by uncertainty after abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, and the advisory thereof. Data reveals that it witnessed a decline of 87% in tourist-flow while foreign arrivals declined by over 81 per cent.

Figures presented in Lok Sabha reveal that only 36,105 tourists visited Kashmir in four months from August compared to 2,67,955 in the corresponding period last year. September saw the lowest arrivals of 4,562 tourists followed by October at 9,327. With situation showing considerable improvement, tourist arrivals recorded quantum jump in November with 12,086 visitors landing in Kashmir. In August, tourist arrivals dropped to 10,130.

Kashmir on August 2 became no-zone for tourists when government issued an advisory for tourists citing militant threat to AmarnathYatra. Kashmir in the initial two months post-August 5 has been the most searched word on internet.

As per Google Trends, this year in August, internet users searched for “Kashmir” more than ever before. Prior to that it was mostly searched in February, when a suicide bomber killed at least 49 security personnel at Awantipora.

Google searches for “Kashmir Property”, “Kashmir land” and “Kashmir flats” have spiked from nearly zero to their highest level.

Manzoor Ahmad Pakhtoon, president of Kashmir Tourism Alliance (KTA) said tourists mostly enquire about Kashmir packages during winter season with Gulmarg witnessing 95 per cent booking given the adventurous high it provides for sports lovers.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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