Kashmir will host this month a major national tourism convention which was earlier planned to be held in China.
The 64th convention of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) will be held in summer capital Srinagar after three decades. Kashmir has held the convention seven times before, the last in 1988, just a year before militancy erupted in the state.
Around 600-700 delegates from across the country and abroad – including tour operators, aviation sector delegates, media and tourism ministers of different states – are expected to attend the convention on March 27 to 30.
“We want to send a message to people all over the country that this place is very much safe and enjoyable. Come and take plunge in its serene beauty,” said Zahoor Qari, the chairman of TAAI’s JK chapter.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in India for its snow-capped Himalayan peaks, apple orchards and lush valleys, thousands of people including foreigners visit the Valley, mainly during the summers. The hospitality sector forms a major chunk of Kashmir’s urban economy.
Qari said the way “a particular section of media” is reporting about Kashmir, a negative perception has evolved about the place.
“The people in news rooms think that bullets fly everywhere in Kashmir which is not true. There are a few places where things are not right and that happens mostly on borders,” he said.
Qari said that the last convention was held in Abu Dhabi and this year it was earlier planned in China. “But now we have decided to hold it in Kashmir,” he said.
The TAAI has organised the convention in collaboration with tourism department.
“TAAI members are leading travel agents in India who can market our state in a big way. We will ensure the members leave Kashmir with beautiful memories,” said Mahmood A Shah, Kashmir’s tourism director.
The department of tourism is also organising pre- and post-convention tours for the participants during which they will be taken to different parts of the city and premier resorts like Pahalgam and Gulmarg.
“The delegates will also stay in houseboats for a night and will also participate in a golf tournament,” said Qari.
TAAI generally holds its conventions outside the country. Earlier, these were held in Abu Dhabi, Bali, Istanbul, Phuket, Dubai and London.
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Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC), Srinagar