Year-2018 to be dedicated to Kashmir promotion: TAAI president

Year-2018 to be dedicated to Kashmir promotion: TAAI president
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Delegates describe Kashmir as ‘safest place for women’

SRINAGAR: After successfully holding its three-day 64th Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) convention, the delegates are now enjoying their stay at Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Srinagar.
The pre- and post-convention tour was organised by the Department of Tourism for the visiting delegates as part of its familiarisation (FAM) programme to expose the travel agents to the real experience of warmth and hospitality of the Valley.
Over 600 delegates from across India and abroad visited Kashmir to attend the convention that concluded successfully on Thursday, an official handout read.
During the convention, the delegates described Kashmir as “one of the best and most peaceful places for travellers” and the association announced 2018 as “Visit Kashmir Year”.
President TAAI, Sunil Kumar said the convention has given Kashmir the right impetus and visibility which would help in attracting more and more tourists towards the Valley.
“We have announced 2018 as ‘Visit Kashmir Year’ and TAAI Managing Committee would promote Kashmir through its websites, print and publicity material,” Kumar said adding the members would package Kashmir beautifully so that the Valley witnesses ‘bumper’ tourism.
Ismail Al-Haj from Jordan who visited Kashmir for the first time, while explaining his experience said, “I spent few days here and it has really left me speechless. When you make up mind to visit Kashmir, it scares you but after you land here and interact with locals, you feel totally in peace. I think I have enjoyed here more than I can enjoy at any other place.”
Devesh Kumar Agarwal from Kolkata, opined that the negative perception about the Valley was spoiling its tourism potential which otherwise is one of the most peaceful places for the visitors.
After visiting Pahalgam, Joyti Mayal from New Delhi described Kashmir as ‘Heaven on Earth’ and the ‘safest place for women’. “While travelling, I saw more girls going to school than boys which gives an impression about the women empowerment here. The women have been enjoying their stay here and have loved the way tourists are welcomed and served. It is a real example of how tourism industry should work,” she said.
The delegates also enjoyed playing golf at Pahalgam Golf Course and Royal Springs Golf Course.
Another delegate Lalita Nijhawan said, “I had never imagined that Kashmir’s beauty was only confined to mountains or lakes but we have beautiful golf courses here. Kashmir has to be the top priority for a traveller. Everyone should visit this place and enjoy the natural beauty in calm and serene environment which is not available elsewhere,” she said.
Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez said TAAI convention will help send positive signal across the globe that J&K is one of the best tourist destinations. “This was a historic event which we conceived during winter months and it will help revive tourism in a big way. The local experience which delegates will carry back is our success. Every delegate has been overwhelmed by the tourism products we offer. The local travel agents from J&K also had a great networking session at their home places and they have also benefitted,” he added.
Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah said TAAI has given Kashmir huge impetus which would revive tourism in a big way. “The travel agents were extremely happy over visiting Kashmir. They have promised to promote Kashmir vigorously. We will be expecting good tourist flow this year,” he said.

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