8 Apr : Attracting 1200 visitors everyday, the picturesque Tulip garden in Srinagar is not only bringing tourists to the droves in Kashmir but also the much-needed revenue for the state.Spread over 400 hectares, the largest such garden in Asia saw a record number of 80,000 visitors last year and is all set to repeat the feat this year, Director (floriculture) Sarwar Naqash said at the inauguration of a week-long tulip festival.
"We expect a bumper tourist season this year as on an average 1200 tourists visit the garden daily since it was thrown open to public on 24th March.Ninety five per cent of the visitors are tourists from different parts of the country and abroad", he said.
"We earned a good revenue last year as every individual is charged Rs.50 for visiting the garden and we expect massive revenue this year", he said.Located in the foothills of Zaberwan hills, the garden also attracted Bollywood with a number of song being shot in the garden.
The tourist season normally starts in Kashmir in the first week of May every year but it commenced in March this year thanks to the tulip garden, Director (Tourism) Farooq Ahmad Shah said.
"Tulip garden is poised to play a key role in promoting tourism in the state as visitors from different parts of the country prefer Kashmir over Holland to see tulips", Shah said about the garden which is a riot of colour with 12 lakh bulbs in more than 70 colours.
He said improvement and expansion of the garden is going on to make it the world’s most beautiful and largest such garden.
The state government has decided to make the tulip festival an annual feature and make a calendar of the events in advance so that tourists get enough time to make preparations for their visit to Kashmir.
The government also plans to tap the floriculture market to provide employment to the youth. "We have on an experimental basis grown flowers in the green houses to provide employment opportunities to the youth of the state", Naqash said.
He said there are plans to motivate youth to take up tulip plantation to earn a livelihood.
While a bunch of tulips from China cost Rs.700, the same from Kashmir cost Rs 200, Naqash said, adding the low cost would help in the marketing of the bulbs.