Sat, 31 Oct 2020

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], September 27 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir, which is also known as a heaven on earth, is all ready to host tourists again after a dry spell witnessed by the tourism industry due to coronavirus.

Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) and other prominent stakeholders of the tourism industry met at Nigeen club in Srinagar on Sunday, after almost two years for their annual general meeting (AGM), under the supervision of Sarmad Hafeez, Commissioner Secretary Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir, and Farooq A Kuthoo, the newly elected President of TAAK.

The purpose of the meeting was to elect a new governing body of the association and chalk out a strategy to revive the tourism sector in the newly created Union Territory which has lost its glory.

Speaking to ANI, Hafeez said that he's hopeful that the tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir, which is the source of livelihood of many locals, will get back to its former glory soon.

"TAAK is one of the oldest and biggest travel agents' bodies. Today we gathered here with a hope that we will start getting tourists again very soon. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have not been traveling for some time, but now the time has come when people will start traveling again," he said.

He stated that hotels and travel agents have started getting inquiries for hotel bookings and other things.

"The travel agents gathered today told me that we are getting inquiries for hotel booking and other things, we are geared up and quite enthusiast to welcome tourists. We are ready to host people following all the COVID protocols," he said.

Farooq Kuthoo, President, TAAK said that he is hopeful that the industry will see a boom by coming March.

"The message of our Prime Minister is clear, be Vocal for Local. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have suffered economic distress and their purchasing power has reduced. Now, they will refocus their attention to good domestic tourism destinations rather than planning international holidays, as they are less expensive. I think after March, we'll see a boom in the tourism sector of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

The sudden departure of tourists from the valley due to COVID-19 resulted in huge losses for tourism players including hoteliers, houseboat owners, tour and travel operators, Shikara owners, and taxi operators.

Hinan Khan, and Entrepreneur, said that she is hopeful after the meeting that the tourism industry will get back on track with the help from the administration.

"After today's meeting, I am hopeful we will get out of the turmoil triggered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, we'll recover very soon, but we need the support of the Government to facilitate the tourists who will visit Jammu and Kashmir so that they don't face any problem," she said.

A prominent tourism player in the valley, Rauf Tramboo also echoed Khan's thoughts and added that the industry is ready to host tourists again.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has given a setback to the industry. During today's meeting, we talked about the steps necessary for the revival of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir. We are completely prepared and ready to host tourists again," he said. (ANI)

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