Sxr airport may turn tourist-friendly with reduced security checks

Javid Ali
SRINAGAR: Airport Authority of India (AAI) is going to reduce the number of checkpoints at Srinagar International Airport to make air travel to Kashmir Valley less hectic for tourists, the authorities said on Saturday.
Speaking at the 12th Annual General Meeting of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance (JKTA), Director of the airport, Rajesh Shinde, said multiple checkpoints “annoy tourists”, making it “not a healthy sign” for the state’s tourism industry.
“Due to multiple checkpoints at the airport, tourists decide not to visit Kashmir again. And it will clearly affect the industry in the state,” he said. “We are, therefore, going to reduce the security checkpoints, while the airport will be expanded to have more space for managing tourists.”
In his address, Secretary JKTA, Farooq Ahmad Shah, said Jammu and Kashmir tourism “is the best in the country”, but “issues need to be addressed to make it better”.
“The government is willing and the conditions are favourable, let us make it a world-class industry. But it is only possible when we work together,” he said. Chairman of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Zahoor Ahmad Tramboo, said the government needs to “crosscheck whether there are any elements that initiate attacks to spoil Kashmir’s image as a tourist destination”.
“Kashmir may be a sensitive place, but it is still one of the best places to visit in India. The authorities need to check if anyone is trying to damage ‘brand Kashmir’,” he said.
Columnist Aijaz-ul-Haq said Indian media’s “negative portrayal of Kashmir” could be one of the reasons affecting the tourism industry. He said Bollywood too has been “projecting Kashmir as a dangerous place” for years.
JK Bank’s President, Saighal said the bank has been supportive of the tourism industry’s every step.
“Bank is trying to help the tourism industry by reducing base rate for entrepreneurs, who are active players in the industry,” he said.