After successfully holding its three-day 64th Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) convention, the delegates are now enjoying their stay in the lap of nature at Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Srinagar, an official statement said.
The official spokesman said that pre and post-convention tour was organized by the Department of Tourism for the visiting delegates as part of its Familiarization (FAM) programme to expose the travel agents to the real experience of warmth and hospitality of the Valley.
“Over 600 delegates from across the country and abroad visited Kashmir to attend 64th TAAI Convention that concluded successfully on Thursday,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that during the convention, the delegates described Kashmir as “one of the best and most peaceful places for travellers” and the Association announced 2018 as “visit Kashmir Year”.
President TAAI, Sunil Kumar said the convention has given Kashmir the right impetus and visibility which will help in attracting more and more tourists towards the Valley.
“We have announced 2018 as ‘Visit Kashmir Year’ and TAAI Managing Committee would promote Kashmir through its websites, print and publicity material,” Kumar said adding the members would package Kashmir beautifully so that the Valley witnesses bumper tourism.
Ismail Al-Haj from Jordan who visited Kashmir for the first time, while explaining his experience said, “I spent few days here and it has really left me speechless. When you make up mind to visit Kashmir, it scares you but after you land here and interact with locals, you feel totally in peace. I think I have enjoyed here more than I can enjoy at any other place.”
Devesh Kumar Agarwal from Kolkata opined that the negative perception about the Valley is spoiling its tourism potential which otherwise is one of the most peaceful places for the visitors.
After visiting Pahalgam, Joyti Mayal from New Delhi described Kashmir as ‘Heaven on Earth’ and safest place for women. “While travelling, I saw more girls going to school than boys which gives an impression about the women empowerment here. The women have been enjoying their stay here and have loved the way tourists are welcomed and served. It is a real example of how tourism industry should work,” she said.
The delegates also enjoyed playing golf at Pahalgam Golf Course and Royal Springs Golf Course.
Another delegate Lalita Nijhawan said, “I had never imagined that Kashmir’s beauty which is not only confined to mountains or lakes but we have beautiful golf courses here. Kashmir has to be the top priority for a traveller. Everyone should visit this place and enjoy the natural beauty in a calm and serene environment which is not available elsewhere,” she said.
Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez said TAAI convention will help send a positive signal across the globe that J&K is one of the best tourist destinations. “This was a historic event which we conceived during winter months and it will help revive tourism in a big way. The local experience which delegates will carry back is our success. Every delegate has been overwhelmed by the tourism products we offer. The local travel agents from J&K also had a great networking session at their home places and they have also benefitted,” he added.
Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah said TAAI has given Kashmir huge impetus which will revive tourism in a big way. “The travel agents were extremely happy over visiting Kashmir. They have promised to promote Kashmir vigorously. We will be expecting good tourist flow this year,” he said.