CHENNAI: To woo tourists from Tamil Nadu, the Jammu and Kashmir government is pushing for more direct flights from Chennai, said Waseem Raja, Jammu and Kashmir additional secretary of tourism.
Currently, Chennai has around 43 flights to Srinagar daily, but none are direct flights. “The agents wanted direct flights and we are urging the Centre to look into it,” he said.
“Initially, only few tourists from Tamil Nadu visited the valley, but in the last decade more from the State are visiting Jammu and Kashmir. Tourists from Tamil Nadu are the sixth largest to visit Jammu and Kashmir,” said Raja who was in Chennai to take part in a road show organised in collaboartion with Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK).
Urging Chennaites to visit Kashmir during the Tulip festival in the first week of April, Raja said that he is expecting more tourists from Tamil Nadu this time. Interestingly, Raja says the Jammu and Kashmir government is promoting uncharted tourist destinations apart from the usual places like Gulmarg and Patnitop.
“We are focussing on Gurez, Bani, a village and a tehsil in Kathua district, Yusmarg or Yousmarg (meaning ‘Meadow of Jesus’), a hill station in the Western part of Kashmir Valley, Doodhpathri, a tourist destination located in Budgam district and Bhaderwah, a place surrounded by plum, apple and peach orchards. Allaying fears, he said the valley is peaceful now and in January more people visited.
He said tourism accounts for seven per cent of J&K’s GDP. He said more than 160 prominent travel agents including heads of main travel bodies participated in the roadshow, wherein he highlighted the potential of Chennai as an emerging market.
Raja said various prominent personalities like Director Information and Public Relations Chennai, Joint Director Tourism Board of Chennai and personalities from the film industry also took part in the roadshow.
He said discussion also focussed on reverse tourism, that is visit of people from Jammu and Kashmir to TN during the winter. Chennai roadshow is part of the 21 roadshows organised in parts of the country.