Homestays help generate employment in Kupwara as peace prevails along LoC

Kupwara, Feb 11: In the serene valley of Kupwara, where hope fills the air, the homestay initiative offers locals an opportunity for sustainable livelihoods.

Over the past two years, Kupwara has emerged as a popular destination for offbeat tourism in Kashmir, drawing over 4 lakh travelers to its border regions including Keran, Machil, Karnah, Bangus, Drangyari, Lolab, Nowgam, Rangwar and few other places.

The surge in tourists visiting offbeat tourist destinations has brought new hopes for the locals who would otherwise find it hard to earn their livelihood. Prior to the ceasefire agreement between two countries, people in border areas would yearn for underground bunkers to thwart any human loss amid cross border shelling but the scenario has changed now as tourists prefer to explore the border areas of Kupwara.

With increasing footfall of tourists, the concept of home stays has gained momentum and scores of locals have registered for home stays across this north Kashmir district.

Habibullah, a resident of Machil said that two years back he could hardly make ends meet but after he registered for homestay, a considerable number of tourists stayed at his house thus paving the way for him to earn his livelihood.

“At present twenty three families have registered for homestay in Machil and if the guns remain silent across the border, more families will come forward to register for homestay. I believe the homestay concept is the best because not only do the tourists come across the local culture but most importantly it generates income for locals. Two years back our preference happened to be underground bunkers but now with the prevailing peace the priority has shifted towards homestays,” Habibullah added.

Drangyari nestled in the foothills of Bangus Valley in Chowkibal area happens to be another offbeat tourist destination where nine families have registered for homestays. “Drangyari serves as the base camp for Bangus. Most of the tourists prefer to stay at our houses and then the next day they leave for Bangus. In fact those tourists who find it hard to stay in Bangus for a night also turn to our homestays” Mohammad Ashraf, a local told Greater Kashmir.

“We are thankful to the Artillery Brigade of Army based in Drugmulla and District Administration Kupwara for providing us the necessary training with regard to the tourism industry. In fact several educated youth from Drangyari and Rangwar have been provided tourist guide training due to which they have become self-reliant,” he added.

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