Air India is mulling to introduce daily flights on Srinagar-Leh route besides pressing additional flights at Srinagar airport especially in the morning and evening slots.
This was revealed by Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, Ashwani Lohani in a meeting with the officials of state tourism department and local travel trade bodies here at SKICC on Sunday.
Secretary Tourism, Farooq Shah, who also attended the meeting, said Chairman Air India assured that daily flights from Srinagar to Leh and back would be resumed soon.
“We had a fruitful meeting with Chairman and Managing Director of Air India today wherein he assured to promote J&K tourism with increased connectivity. Leh is receiving huge number of foreign tourists. If we have Srinagar-Leh-Srinagar air network, we can get good foreign tourist flow to Kashmir who will then move to Leh,” said Shah.
“He also assured to explore the possibilities of running flights from Srinagar to Bangkok, Dubai and Jeddah to tap far-east market.”
Secretary Tourism said the department would also step up marketing campaign which would include 13 road shows across India.
“We will be tying up with Air India for other promotional campaigns also.
Air India has also assured to introduce additional flights in the morning and evening besides introducing smart group fares.
Chairman Tourist Trade Interest Guild (TTIG) Akram Siah said Chairman Air India said he would explore the option of operating Srinagar to Bangkok flights via Delhi.
“Kashmir has a good market in countries like Bangkok, Thailand and Malaysia. This was our long pending demand which we had put forward. He (Ashwani Lohani) said Air India would consider Srinagar to Dubai flights via Delhi,” said TTIG Chairman.
Tourism department has also decided to carry out aggressive marketing campaigns in the coming months to attract tourists back to Kashmir after 2014 floods hit tourist flow badly.
The travel trade fraternity asked Ashwani Lohani to promote Kashmir tourism in Air India’s in-flight magazines and promotional videos.
Another noted travel agent and Chairman Pilgrim and Leisure Tour Operators Forum (PILTOF) Nasir Shah said Air India Chairman agreed to release Kashmir tourism ads in the next issue of Air India in-flight magazine and allow a slot of three-fourth of a minute on Kashmir tourism in the in-flight video systems.
Nasir Shah said introduction of international routes are commercially feasible on Srinagar-Bangkok via Delhi and Srinagar-Dubai -Jeddah.
“This sector is lucrative for pilgrimage purpose and nearly 25000 to 30000 youth work in these places and can avail this facility.”
The travel agents also demanded introduction of direct flights to Srinagar Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune and Nagpur.
The tour operators suggested capping of fare during peak season which should not exceed Rs 8500
The tour operators also requested for displaying tourism related brochures at all Air India offices in India, introduction of Kashmiri cuisines in the flights.
Others who were present in the meeting include President Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir Rauf Tramboo, J&K Chapter Chairman of Indian Association of Tour Operators Khaliq Wangnoo, J&K Chapter of Travel Agents Association of India Shamim Shah, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance Manzoor Pakhtoon, Chairman Association of Kashmir Tour Operators Nazir A Mir and President Pahalgam Hotels Association Asif Burza besides representatives of TASK and HBOA.