The Kashmir valley has better news than you would imagine. According to Mr Ashwani Lohani, the Chairman & Managing Director of Air India. The airline is all set to resume its services on the Srinagar-Leh route in addition to the current existing flight schedule connecting Srinagar with the rest of India and other tourism friendly countries.
The officials of state tourism department & travel trade local bodies met at SKICC recently for a brainstorming session. The meeting was also attended by Farooq Shah, the Secretary Tourism, who confirmed there will be the soon resumption of Air India flight services between Srinagar and Leh. He further confirmed that there has been a spike in the number of foreign tourists visiting Leh in the recent times. An Air India service between Srinagar-Leh-Srinagar will boost J&K tourism industry’s chances of attracting more tourist and improving tourism revenues. A future schedule of flights between Srinagar to Dubai, Bangkok and Jeddah, is a possibility according to Shah.
To achieve the tourism targets the J&K Tourism Department will be aggressively marketing the tourism cause and would shortly be launching 13 road shows across India. A much-focused marketing efforts are necessary, especially after 2014 floods that have reduced the number of tourists drastically.
Besides starting flights from Srinagar in the morning and evening time, an option of travelling to Bangkok, Dubai from Srinagar via Delhi is being explored. A smart group fare facility will be introduced as part of improved marketing strategy, said Akram Siah, Chairman Tourist Trade Interest Guild (TTIG). The other countries who continue to send tourists to Kashmir are Malaysia, Bangkok and Thailand.
The travel trade fraternity suggested that Kashmir tourism should be promoted in the Air India’s in-flight magazines and promotional videos. According to Mr. Nasir Shah, Chairman Pilgrim and Leisure Tour Operators Forum (PILTOF) this suggestion was accepted, and travelers will see such advertisements in the next issue of the Air India magazine. It was also recommended that J&K tourism brochures be kept at all Air India offices in India, and Kashmiri cuisines are introduced on all the related flights to Srinagar.
He said that a commercially viable travel on the Srinagar-Bangkok via Delhi and Srinagar-Dubai –Jeddah was possible. The route sector is beneficial for pilgrimage purpose and close to 25000 to 30000 young people receive employment in this area due to the tourism business.
There was a request from travel agents who demanded that direct flights to Srinagar Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Nagpur be introduced as well.The tour operators also recommended that the airfare is capped at INR8500 during peak season.
The tour operator group that attended this important meeting were
RaufTramboo, President Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir,
KhaliqWangnoo J&K Chapter Chairman of Indian Association of Tour Operators
Shamim Shah, J &K Chapter of Travel Agents Association of India
Manzoor Pakhtoon, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance
Nazir A Mir, Chairman, Association of Kashmir Tour Operators and Asif Burza, President Pahalgam Hotels Association besides representatives from HBOA& TASK.