700 tourism players from India, number of foreign delegates expected to participate
In what could turn to be a major boost for Kashmir tourism, the who’s who of travel-trade industry from across India and several European and South-East Asian countries are scheduled to visit the Valley next month to attend the 64th annual convention of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) being held between March 27- 30.
This is for the first time since 1988 that Kashmir would be hosting this grand tourism convention, otherwise held at globally famed destination such as Dubai and Indonesia.
The convention which has been hosted by Kashmir seven times prior to 1988 is being organised in collaboration with Tourism Department. Speaking with Greater Kashmir, chairman, TAAI JK Chapter ZahoorQari said the managing committee of the Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association (UFTAA), the largest world body representing travel industry, will be also attending the convention.
“All decision-makers of the tourism industry and policymakers will be under one roof, who can chalk out a strategy and help us relaunch Kashmir as a complete international tourist destination," Qari said.
Tour operators from South-East Asia attending the convention is significant as almost 10,000 tourists from Malaysia and Thailand visited Kashmir in 2017. Qari said he is hopeful that foreign travel agents visiting Kashmir will be able to create positive portrayal of the Valley which has been adversely impacted by negative media publicity in the recent past.
“It is after more than 30 years that TAAI convention is happening in Kashmir and we are looking forward to arrival of outside tour operators especially those from abroad,” Qari said.
Qari said interactive sessions would be held during the convention so that local tour operators get a chance to network with their global counterparts.
“The local travel-trade fraternity is keen for revival in influx of foreign tourists to Kashmir. They along with hospitality players will be given an opportunity to take part in networking sessions with foreign tour operators at the convention. We will also have students of Travel and Tourism courses from Kashmir University and Central University of Kashmir attending lectures by these visiting tour operators,” Qari said.
Qari said a total of around 600-700 domestic and foreign delegates are participating in the forthcoming convention. TAAI is also organising pre and post-tour for the delegates at Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Nigeen and Dal Lake.
“There will be a golf tournament at Royal Spring Golf Course so that golfers see the potential of golf tourism in the state,” he said. Previously TAAI conventions were held in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2016; Bali, Indonesia in 2015; Bengaluru in 2013; Istanbul, Turkey in 2012; Phuket, Thailand in 2010; Dubai, UAE in 2009; and London, UK in 2007.