Kashmir eyes Gulf tourists

DUBAI - The northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, once a haven for tourists, is once again opening up its floodgates for tourists from the Gulf.

By Debasree S.

Published: Sat 19 Apr 2003, 12:02 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 9:58 PM

The state is offering an exciting array of tourist packages and special concessions during the summer, M. Ashraf, Director-General, Department of Tourism, Govt of Jammu and Kashmir, said at a Press conference at the office of the India Tourism in Dubai yesterday.

Strife-torn Kashmir, one of the most picturesque tourist destinations in the world, has been inaccessible for most part of the last decade, but tourism prospects are now looking up.

"Last year, we had around 30,000 tourists from different countries but with the special promotional packages that are being worked out, we are looking at more than 200,000 tourists in 2003," Mr Ashraf said, adding that tourism would be a harbinger of peace in the state.

For tourists in the Gulf, Indian Airlines (IA) has worked out a special six day and five night package, including three nights in a houseboat in Dal Lake, one day in Pehalgam and one day in Gulmarg at Dh1,275 per person with the airfare coming to Dh1,350.

Special helicopter services to the Hindu pilgrim spot Vashno Devi temple in Jammu, which is visited by more than 4.4 million visitors every year, and four night packages to Leh and Ladakh at Dh1,080 per person, excluding airfare, are some of the new offering that the Jammu and Kashmir tourism has worked out with the help of IA.

The airline has an exclusive package for four nights at Leh at a cost of Dh1,075, which includes all transfers, meals, sight seeing within Leh and taxes.

The package price does not include airfares. For pilgrims to Vaishno Devi temple, the airline offers an exclusive package at a price of Dh420.

Shyam Sundar, IA Manager (UAE), while speaking at the Press conference, said: "We have established a special discounted add-on amount of Dh100 for one-way and Dh200 for two-way (excluding taxes) for travel from New Delhi to Jammu or Srinagar for passengers travelling from Dubai or Sharjah to New Delhi.

The add-on amounts represent a discount of about 75 per cent of the normal airfare on Delhi-Jammu-Delhi or Delhi-Srinagar sectors.

IA operates a daily flight between Delhi and Dubai and four flights a week from Sharjah to Delhi that offer excellent onward connections to the daily flights operated by the airline from Delhi to Jammu and Srinagar.

As an additional measure to facilitate the passengers, IA will also provide through check-in for such passengers and their baggage apart from complimentary transportation from the international to domestic airport in New Delhi.

Mr Sundar also added that IA, which operates four flights from Delhi to Leh, is currently planning to introduce a daily flight from July when summer season sets in. IA has several holiday packages in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh exclusively for tourists from UAE.

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