TAAK holds AGM|Farooq Kuthoo elected new President

Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) on Saturday elected Farooq A Kuthoo as its new President for 2020-22.

The elections were held recently and the results were declared today at TAAK’s 11th & 12th Annual General Meeting which was attended by all members.

Habibulah Pandow was re-elected as its Vice-President, Showkat A Khankashi as Secretary General, Mohammad Shafi Jan retained Secretary Finance post, Sajad Ahmad as Joint Secretary, Irshad Ahmad Hazari as Chief Organiser and Ghulam Nabi Bhat as Publicity Secretary.

Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez was the chief guest while Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani was the guest of honour and Deputy Secretary Tourism Waseem Raja participated as distinguished guest.

Sarmad while complementing TAAK for its effort in tourism promotion said the administration will be at the beck and call of the association in all its endeavours to attract tourists.

He said coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to all the economic sectors especially the tourism sector globally.

“However, we have to rise to the occasion and start travelling and encourage others to travel. If we wait for the virus to go, the travel industry will be doomed. We have to live with it and also start our tourism activities,” he said.

He said that the government has put all the SOPs in place and tourists can visit Kashmir.

“A tourist on arrival will be tested in just five minutes and he will be allowed to proceed for his holidays,” he said.

Director Tourism praised TAAK for being one of the most important organisations in Kashmir which has been at the forefront in promoting tourism.

He also assured his full support to TAAK’s new body.

Nisar said the department has started tourism promotional campaigns through national newspapers.

“We have already started a marketing campaign and we are hopeful of receiving tourists,” he added.

In his welcome address, Kuthoo highlighted the role of TAAK for the promotion of the tourism sector in general and its members in particular.

He said TAAK has been at the forefront in advocating the cause of travel trade while at the same time promoted the J&K’s rich tourism potential within and outside the country through participation in road shows, travel marts, travel fairs and special meetings with the union tourism ministry.

Kuthoo said the travel trade industry is facing difficult times due to Covid-19 and it was difficult task for the tour operators to revive tourism sector.

“We have been facing lot of challenges in the past also but we have bounced back as we are a resilient people. Our tourism industry was hit beyond repair in August last year and till today we are yet to recuperate and revive the industry,” he said.

Kuthoo urged the Tourism Department to ramp up its tourism promotional campaigns both offline and online modes.

Kuthoo also read out the AGM report to the members who appreciated the works done by the association.

Kuthoo comes with a bag of both domestic and international experience.

He has Masters in Business Administration from Indian Institute of Business Administration before pursuing his career in Tourism and Aviation.

He worked for various multi-nationals both at domestic and international front In previous term, Kuthoo served as Secretary General.

Earlier, in his address, the outgoing president Ashfaq Siddiq Dug thanked members for their support in his leadership.

He said TAAK successfully organised important road-shows during his term which include Bangkok tourism promotional campaign.

Dug said TAAK has been most vocal in highlighting the problems faced by the tourism and travel sector.

During the proceedings of AGM, Mohammad Azim Tuman was conferred with ‘ Manzoor Sidiq Memorial Award’ posthumously for the year 2019 for his selfless services and great contribution to the tourism industry of J&K .

Abdul Rauf was conferred ‘Manzoor Siddiq Memorial Award’ for the year 2020. Rauf has rendered immense contribution to tourism industry.

Both the awardees were selected by TAAK’s special committee to recognise their services in the tourism industry.