STATE TIMES NEWS SRINAGAR: Advisor to Governor, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai on Friday met several delegations of Travel and Hospitality sector who apprised him about several issues confronting tourism industry of the State and gave various suggestions to boost it. The delegations included Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Travel Agents Society of Kashmir, Travel Agents Association of Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance, Association of Kashmir Tour Operators, Pilgrim and Leisure Tour Operators Forum, Travel Agents Association of India -JK Chapter, Urban Travel Agents Association, Tourist Trade Interest Guild, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Adventure Tour Operators of Kashmir and Shikara Owners Association. Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani, Deputy Director Publicity Riyaz Ahmad Shah, Deputy Director M&W Abdul Qayoom Kirmani were also present on the occasion. The delegation of Houseboat owners sought financial package for the repair and renovation of the houseboats to save the heritage properties. They also sought rehabilitation of the de-registered houseboats located at Chinar Bagh, River Jhelum, Dal and Nigeen Lake by developing a tourist village at Chandapora, Srinagar. The tour operators urged the Advisor to launch aggressive tourism promotion campaigns through road shows, participation in the travel and trade fairs across India and installing hoardings at prime locations in different cities to send a positive message that Kashmir is safe tourist place. The travel and tour operators also demanded additional trains from the major cities like Ahmadabad, Kolkatta and other cities for Jammu to help attract budget class tourists. They said the introduction of the night flights will also help in attracting more tourists, especially corporate houses and regulate high air fare during the peak season. The tour operators urged for the provision of giving permission to the filmmakers at Tourism Directorate office instead of Civil Secretariat. The Advisor directed the Director Tourism Kashmir to issue permissions to the filmmakers for their shootings in Kashmir as per past practice. The tour operators also expressed concern over the impact of GST, which they said has made the J&K state an expensive destination for travellers. They urged upon the Advisor to take up the matter with the GST Council so that State’s tourism is made tax-free industry. Travel agents informed the Advisor that they are the prime promoter of the state’s tourism destination and they may be given incentives for promotional activities under Market Development Assistance Schemes. The Advisor gave patient hearing to the delegations and assured that their genuine issues would be addressed and valuable suggestions considered for action.
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