Group of domestic, Thai operators wrap-up Kashmir FAM tour

Say need to get rid of negative publicity

SAQIB MALIK
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 12 2017 12:01AM | Updated Date: Oct 12 2017 12:01AM
Group of domestic, Thai operators wrap-up Kashmir FAM tourGK Photo

A group of 15 domestic and 12 Thailand-based travel agents who completed their three-day visit to Kashmir recently said they will take every step to overcome the "trust deficit" among prospective tourists regarding the Valley. The familiarization tour of these tour operators from Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Agra, Bhubaneswar and Thailand was organised by the Tourism Department. 

Most of the tour operators agreed that there is an immediate need to counter the “negative media campaign” against Kashmir. 

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Irshad Patel, Head- Marketing and Sales of Mumbai-based Creative Tours and Travels said who is veteran in tour trade business and was visiting the valley after a gap of 12 years said she felt completely safe during her Kashmir visit. “I would definitely send across a positive message about Kashmir to people intending to visit here but the responsibility also lies on J&K Tourism Department to ensure that a sustained campaign to promote Kashmir is undertaken,” Patel said. 

Nattinee Shrestha of Himalayan Holidays visited Kashmir along with other 12 travel agents from Thailand to get the first hand experience of prevailing situation in Kashmir.

“There has been lot of negative publicity going on about Kashmir. Before sending tourists to Kashmir, we wanted to visit here and we found everything is good. I appreciate how people are so nice and friendly with the tourists. Tourists are totally enjoying their holidays here,” says Shrestha.

 Tour operator, Bijan Kumar Muduli who is Managing Director of Bhubaneswar-based Eastern Risen Expedition lamented that after the recently concluded slack Durga Puja holiday season,all hopes are now on the forthcoming winter season. 

“Puja holiday season in which many tourists come from Eastern India to Kashmir was quite disappointing. From getting 100 tourists in 2014 despite floods my arrivals have gone down to 16 this year. I used to get Thai tourists which is no more the case but we are hoping for a winter sports to attract people to Kashmir,” Muduli said.

DeepaRikhari, Manager Products at SOTC Travels said it is important to change the negative perception which has developed among people outside regarding Kashmir. “Tourists come here completely on trust factor and we need to assure them that Kashmir is safe. The mere saying that Kashmir is heaven on earth does not sell anymore. An incident of violence is portrayed by national media as if it has occurred in heart of Srinagar which needs to stop,” Rikhari said. 

A veteran tour operator, Satishbhai Shah, who runs Mumbai-based Pooja Tours and Travels said he played an important role to counter a “boycott campaign” against Kashmir by a selected group of tour agents. Shah said tourist inquiries for forthcoming Diwali season are low but expressed hope that tourist footfalls to Kashmir would increase. “Last year we ensured that there are no cancellations even as we got tourists here with no profit margin. We are emotionally attached to Kashmir and have a dedicated customer service desk catering to tourists for J&K,” Shah said. ShaileshChoughule, Manager Operations for travel portal goomo.com said a sustained media campaign will help to attract tourists to Kashmir