In a bid to increase tourist flow to J&K from Gujarat, which constitutes 30% of all arrivals, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today promised a ‘better-packaged and improved’ J&K that offers new vistas in pilgrim, heritage and leisure tourism.
He said he has personally come to Ahmedabad on a mission to strengthen the special bond between the two states in the tourism sector.
Stressing upon the need to increase air and rail traffic to J&K, the Chief Minister said he has taken up with Union Ministers of Railways and Civil Aviation the issue to operate more trains and flights to the State. I have requested them to allow chartered flights and night-landing facility at Jammu and Srinagar airports as well as start summer special trains like Ahmedabad-Jammu and Mumbai-Jammu to facilitate the visitors,” he said and added that better handholding by Police and Tourism personnel will be ensured at Airports, Railway stations and tourist bus terminals.
Rising air fares have been one of the major dampeners to tourist flow to the state where 70 per cent of all visitors have travelled by air in the last four months.
Stressing upon the tour operators to coordinate with their local counterparts in offering attractive family packages, Mufti Sayeed said the Government has conceptualized various add-on packages like light-and-sound shows at the famed Mughal Gardens, river cruises across Jhelum riverfront and water-rafting for the leisure and heritage tourists.
On a specific query from a tour operator about availability of vegetarian food in J&K, the Chief Minister directed MD JKTDC to set up vegetarian restaurants at all major tourist destinations so that domestic visitors have a feel of home-made food.
Describing tour operators as the most important link between the state and the visitors, Mufti Sayeed sought their support in providing full occupancy this season. “We are also working towards considerably improving our intake capacity, both at the middle and high-end level, so that better accommodation facilities are provided to the tourists in the hospitality sector,” he added.
Expressing gratitude to tour and travel players in promoting J&K during its most-troubled times, Mufti Sayeed said the State is also working to highlight its rich pilgrim, heritage and culture in the State. “We will showcase heritage sites of all the three regions so that the visitors are able to see new places of interest in the State,” he added.
The Chief Minister said he will link the Handicrafts industry with tourism so that genuine and price-tagged products are sold to the tourists during their visit to the State.
Emphasizing upon the need to promote business tourism in J&K, Minister for Finance, Dr. Haseeb A Drabu, said several packages for Corporate sector like Golf and high-end tourism will be introduced this season. He requested the media fraternity to provide space to good news emerging from J&K in the tourism sector as it is connected with every household of the State.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of State for Information, Education & Culture, Priya Sethi, won the hearts of the audience by speaking in Gujarati. “Having been born and brought up in Gujarat, I have received tremendous love and affection from the people of J&K for which I am thankful to them,” she added.
Commissioner /Secretary Tourism, Shailendra Kumar, gave a detailed presentation about the initiatives taken by the Tourism Department to increase tourist footfall in J&K.