March 2018 News

Removing Trust-deficit Will Help Revive Kashmir Tourism: TAAI President

8 March 2018
Greater Kashmir
Saqib Malik

Srinagar: Winning the trust of prospective tourists is imperative for revival of tourism sector in Kashmir which can be made possible by efforts of the travel-trade industry across India and the world believes president of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Sunil Kumar. In an exclusive interaction with Greater Kashmir, during his recent visit to Srinagar, Kumar said TAAI's annual convention scheduled to be held in the Valley between March 27-29 will prove a boon for the local tourism sector. 'It (Kashmir tourism) will go in the direction of certainty, as the event will help raise the confidence level of the tourism sellers and customers travelling to this part. It is a fact that before travelling people go on internet to check how conducive situation is to visit a place. They then pick up the phone and call the travel agent and that is where response from the tour trade player should be positive,' Kumar said. All the leading national media houses will be covering the TAAI convention that will help to send across a positive message about Kashmir as a tourist destination, he said. 'The entire travel-trade industry across India is aware that TAAI convention is happening in Kashmir and that too after 30 years. This along with a positive media coverage will help to encourage prospective tourist to visit the Valley with confidence,' Kumar said. TAAI annual convention will be highlighting presence of luxurious properties such as sprawling hotels along with warm hospitality of Kashmir. 'There is an excellent convention centre (SKICC), cuisine is amazing and moreover people are kind here,' Kumar said. 'Many of the travel trade players attending this convention are visiting Kashmir first time and those who have, have done so a long time back. These players will be delighted once they are back to their hometowns and will help to multiply the tourist influx. But what is important is that the locals, government and hospitality players accept the challenge that we have a mega convention happening,' Kumar said. Replying to a question that whether promotional events hold any significance for Kashmir tourism, Kumar said travel conventions and tourism events held by prestigious organizations can help to promote Kashmir. 'It certainly matters who is holding the event. A 67-year-old association doing their annual convention in Kashmir is not a small thing and that has already been noticed by people. I am sure the delegated will get a red-carpet welcome here which would impress the visitors,' Kumar said. Commenting on involvement of smaller travel-trade players in Kashmir with the forthcoming convention, Kumar said house-boat and budget hotel owners have also been taken into confidence for the convention. Kumar said success of TAAI convention will encourage tourists of all categories to visit Kashmir. 'It is a very fact that success of this convention will send a positive message that Kashmir is a perfect tourist destination. Not just high-end but tourists from all categories will be encouraged to visit here,' Kumar said. Kumar said purpose of TAAI conventions is to network with tourism boards, local governments and hospitality industry. 'Our task is very clear. We promote tourism beyond all boundaries of politics, biases and that's what we are here for,' Kumar said. Hoping that TAAI convention will also help to promote MICE tourism, Kumar said events and meetings for the forthcoming convention have been lined-up in a way that it addresses needs of MICE tourism players. Vice-President, TAAI, Sanjay Narula who was accompanying Kumar told Greater Kashmir that participation of foreign delegates in the convention is a value addition. Narula said despite 'breath-taking' scenic locales, 'present numbers (tourist footfall) don't do justice to the place'. 'The good part is that tourists who have been visiting Kashmir have been seeing it a nice place to visit. We are not here to promote only 5-star hotels but showcase even local brands, warmth and hospitality of people,' Narula said. Narula said Maharashtra and Gujarat from where tourist influx to Kashmir has seen a nosedive has also shown a keen interest in the TAAI Srinagar convention.