8 lakh domestic, 50,000 foreign tourists visited Kashmir this year

Srinagar: Advisor to Governor, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai on Tuesday said that the government will provide all possible assistance to the tourism stakeholders in their efforts to project Kashmir as world’s top tourism destination.

In an interactive session with tourists and tourism players here on the banks of Dal Lake, Ganai urged the service providers and stakeholders to work towards placing famed Kashmir among the world top tourism destinations by the year 2020. He suggested for introducing effective tourist friendly measures to make the stay of the tourists longer in Kashmir. He also stressed on the need to introduce various attractions such as evening cultural shows among other festivals for extending the nightlife.

Stating that Jammu and Kashmir was the safest place for the travellers, Ganai appealed tourists to visit the State—which offers diverse tourism products and unmatched beauty.

Extending greetings to the tourists who had come to celebrate Christmas and new year in Kashmir, the Advisor said for past few months, the tourist footfall here has been encouraging which is the outcome of the untiring promotional activities carried out by the department and by the tour operators.

Ganai said over 8.5 lakh domestic and 50,000 foreign tourists have visited Kashmir this year so far and the hotel occupancy at Gulmarg is almost 100 per cent for the New Year.

“The tourist arrivals have picked up and more tourists are comings. The bookings have also picked up which can be gauged from the fact that the Gulmarg is fully packed for New Year. This is very encouraging,” Ganai said.

He also advised travel and tour operators to make a good relationship with the outside state travel agents, tourism promoters. “Travel agents and tour operators must work very hard to convince traveller to visit Kashmir. You have to build upon your contacts and personal relationships with the travel agents from other states who bring tourists here,” he said.

The Advisor also emphasized on providing quality services to the travellers so that they go back with happy memories.

“We are extremely proud of our people whose conduct with tourists is very pleasing. The travel and tour operators are working very hard to bring tourists to Kashmir. We also have to focus on providing the best services to the tourists who will give the best experience to the travellers here in the State,” he said.

Recalling about his recent visit to New Delhi, Ganai said that he has appealed Union Government to make efforts to promote JK Tourism at national and international levels.

Advisor Ganai also exhorted upon the people and the service providers not to compromise on the fragile environment and keep surroundings clean. He stressed on the stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations to come forward and make Kashmir clean and green.

He said that another key issue that comes to the fore was regarding infrastructure. He said at some of the tourist destinations, infrastructure would be given a major facelift.

Director, Department of Tourism, Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani also interacted with the tourist and the service providers on the occasion. He assured full support to the service providers in marketing the State as the best tourist destination of the country.

Wani said tourism department will be aggressively promoting the J&K State in the travel marts and road shows outside the State to attract maximum traveller to the State.

On the occasion, representatives from various travel, hotel, houseboat and Shikara associations gave various suggestions for the promotion of tourism. They also raised many issues confronting tourism industry.

Advisor Ganai gave them a patient hearing and assured that their grievances would be addressed.

Deputy Director Publicity Reyaz Ahmad Shah, Deputy Director Recreation Sarfaraz Mohammad, Deputy Director M&W Abdul Qayoom Kirmani besides other officers were also present on the occasion.