Mufti asks stakeholders to campaign hard for increasing tourist footfall

SRINAGAR – In a bid to improve tourist footfall to the picturesque Kashmir Valley in upcoming Pooja and Diwali holidays, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today directed the tourism stakeholders to organize promotional drives in Kolkata, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, from where the State receives maximum visitors.
He said he will take up with the Union Railways Minister, Suresh Prabhu, the issue of running special train services during the festival season to facilitate the tourists intending to visit the Valley.
The Chief Minister said this while interacting with a delegation of Kashmir Tourism Trade Bodies’ Coordination Committee, here today.
Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar and Director Tourism, Kashmir & MD JKTDC, Farooq Ahmad Shah, were also present on the occasion.
Referring to the Tourism Mart being organized at Kolkata from July 31, Mufti Sayeed asked the delegation to participate in the Mart and prepare in advance special packages for attracting visitors from Kolkata during the Durga Pooja holidays. “Being principal stakeholders, your presence at Kolkata will send a positive signal in building tourist confidence in travelling to Kashmir this season,” he said while indicating to the delegation to promote Valley as an all-season destination.
He also asked the Tourism Department to install billboards in Kolkata to provide visibility to department’s family packages for attracting the tourists. “This will highlight your packages and draw visitors to the Valley and the State in large numbers,” he stated.   
Over the years, Kashmir has been a favourite destination for tourists from West Bengal, Gujarat and Maharashtra during Durga Pooja and Diwali holidays.     Asking Director Tourism to bring new destinations like Gurez, Kokernag, Daksum, Aharbal and Dudpathri within the ambit of ‘Kashmir Calling’ campaign, the Chief Minister said autumn and winter seasons continue to hold sway on a special category of dedicated visitors, who make a beeline for visiting Kashmir. “We need to built on that trust and provide tourists add-on facilities when they visit Valley during upcoming festive season,” he said.  
The Chief Minister said he will meet the Railways Minister and request him to run special trains during festival season from Kolkata, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. He also assured the delegation of taking up the matter of starting a direct Kolkata-Srinagar air service during Pooja holidays with the Union Civil Aviation Minister.
The delegation requested for Chief Minister’s intervention in revising the Guidelines of Market Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme of the Union Tourism Ministry for Medical / Wellness Tourism so as to broaden the scope of the Valley’s potential in a totally new line. They also requested for organizing road shows in South East Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, from where Valley has traditionally received a large number of tourists.    
MD JKTDC, along with Director Tourism Jammu, will lead a delegation of major tourism players for participating in Tourism Mart at Kolkata, which is beginning from July 31 later this month. 
Those present in the delegation included Showkat Chaudhary, President KHARA,  G. M. Dug, President KHAROF, Yusuf Chapri, President HBOA, Peerzada Fayaz, President TAAK,  Rouf Tramboo, President ATOAK, Haji Abdul Hameed Wangnoo, President, DTOAK, Haji Abdul Khaliq Wangnoo, Chairman, IATO, JK Chapter, Manzoor Ahmad Pakhtoon, President J&K Tourism Alliance, Jan Mohammad, President Urban Travel Agents and Nasir Shahr, Convenor, Kashmir Tourism Trade Bodies’ Coordination Committee.

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