Resumption of int’l air travel to India to boost foreign tourist arrivals in J&K

Will hold promotional events abroad to attract visitors: Secretary Tourism
An airplane approaching Srinagar Airport over a mustard field in Wathoora area of Budgam district on Sunday.
An airplane approaching Srinagar Airport over a mustard field in Wathoora area of Budgam district on Sunday. Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: As India resumed normal international air travel on Sunday, travel trade stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir are optimistic that footfall of foreigners will significantly pick up in days to come.

Speaking with Greater Kashmir, Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez said despite limited air travel between India and overseas destinations in the last few weeks, foreign tourist arrivals had started to witness an increase.

However, Hafeez said the resumption of routine international air travel is a shot in the arm for Kashmir tourism.

“The international air travel has resumed at the best possible time and we could not have asked for more. We are quite hopeful that more foreigners will start visiting Kashmir during this tourism season,” said Hafeez.

The Secretary Tourism the situation owing to COVID-19 had led to gloom and doom in the tourism sector and taken a bad hit on the foreign tourist arrivals to Kashmir. However, the sharp decrease in the COVID cases coupled with resumption of air travel is good news for the tourism sector, he said.

“The foreign tourists did not have the opportunity for the last two years to visit Kashmir. The domestic tourist arrivals to Kashmir are quite upbeat and we are quite hopeful that we will soon be witnessing the arrival of our foreign guests as well,” said Hafeez.

He said the Tourism Department and tour travel players were expecting a good influx of tourists from Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and even European countries.

“Travel queries are increasing with the travel trade players. Foreign tourists have started to show interest in Kashmir tourism once again,” said Hafeez.

The Secretary Tourism said the Department along with Union Ministry of Tourism will be holding international travel marts road shows abroad. “We have a plethora of activities lined up in overseas destinations. The main focus is to showcase not just the natural beauty of Kashmir but hospitality and culture of the place as well,” said Hafeez.

Asia’s largest Tulip Garden overlooking the Dal Lake in the summer capital thrown open to the public is also giving local tourism players a hope of a healthy start to the tourist season. Most tour-trade players expressed optimism that with more than a million Tulip’s expected to bloom, the season this year will witness a sharp increase in footfalls.

Tourists from the South-East Asia region,especially Malaysia and Thailand continued to spend vacations in Kashmir prior to the outbreak of COVID in 2020. As per official figures, almost 22,000 foreign tourists visited Kashmir between January to April, 2019.

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