‘Steep Airfares Affect Tourist Inflow To Kashmir’

‘Steep Airfares Affect Tourist Inflow To Kashmir’

10 September 2013
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: Minister for Tourism, Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the steep airfares were affecting the tourist flow to Kashmir as travel packages of this place become costlier than those offered by many European countries. Mir said to overcome this problem, “the state government would ensure that airlines keep an upper cap beyond which they don’t hike the fares on Kashmir route during peak season.” “We have witnessed that during peak tourism season, Delhi-Srinagar or Srinagar-Delhi airfare goes as high as Rs 20,000 from each side. In such situations, tourists prefer European and Middle East countries over Kashmir. So we have decided to meet the civil aviation ministry as well as the airliners to persuade them to keep airfares within a reasonable range,” Mir said, while addressing media on the 29th Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) Convention here. J&K Tourism Department and tour operators from the state are participating in the event. “Kashmir was a God-made-destination,” Mir praised while appealing the tour operators who have come from across the country to participate in the convention here, to promote J&K tourism. “Our state has no match when it comes to serenity and beautiful locales. JK is an all season destination. But unfortunately certain factors are affecting our tourism trade. Nonetheless we assure you wonderful period in Kashmir,” said Mir. Mir on the occasion requested the management of IATO to organize its 30th convention at Srinagar. “Kashmir may not have five star hotels like in other parts of the country but with our hospitality we will win your hearts. We will make your stay in Kashmir most memorable,” Mir said. He said Kashmir was not only about Gulmarg and Pahalgam. “State government has developed many other equally beautiful spots like Mansabal, Doodhpatri, Yousmarg, Aharbal, Kokarnag, Achabal, Dakshum, Sinthan Pass,” he said. Mir said that tourist inflow to Kashmir had increased from 3 lakh in 2002 to around 20 lakh in 2012. He also appealed private players to invest in Kashmir in tourism sector. “Now locals are coming up with infrastructure and the private players from outside the state should also invest in our state which has a huge potential for investors,” he said. “We will provide you all the support and the Kashmiris would be more than happy to host this convention,” he said. He also announced that Department of Tourism was organizing Ladakh Festival and also Saffron Festival during in September and October months before winter sets in for adventure tourism. “We are organsing a Saffron Festival from Oct 15 to Oct 30 where tourists can see saffron blooms and experience the plucking of saffron from flowers in world famous saffron fields of Pampore.” President IATO Subhash Goyal also appealed the tour operators to promote Kashmir for tourism. Chairman IATO-JK Chapter Abdul Khaliq Wangnoo also spoke on the occasion and assured all the help to tour operators their customers visiting Kashmir.