Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Urging domestic and overseas tour operators and media to showcase J&K as a safe tourist destination, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said there has been a sea change in the situation and time has come to remove doubts from the minds of people visiting the State. He said enhanced tourist flow will push up State’s economy and bring in peace and stability. 
Talking this morning with a 24-member tour operators group from Greece, led by Ms. Mary Souli, Chief Minister said a positive change has taken place in the situation which can be visualized by everyone visiting the State. 
Mr. Abdullah said media and tour operators have a critical role to play in highlighting J&K as a safe tourist destination which will help in reviving the tourism industry. He said tour operators could be instrumental in persuading European and other western countries to issue fresh advisories regarding safety in visiting J&K. Sharing her experience of visiting the valley, Ms. Souli praised State’s natural beauty and described it as God’s gifted land and added that Kashmir is as normal as any other part of the world. “We have not seen anything unusual here. Protests take place everywhere including our own country”, Ms. Souli said.  
Praising people’s hospitality, Ms. Souli said, “Wherever we went, we were received with love and affection and care was taken of our smallest requirements”.  
The Greek tour leader said national and international tour operators should advise foreign visitors to visit Kashmir so that any doubt or fear in their minds is removed. She also suggested measures for improving infrastructure and services in the State with special reference to houseboats in Dal Lake. “Like J&K, Greece is a tourism-driven place”, she said, adding the State offers a lot to intending tourist in terms of tourism potential. 
Ms. Souli assured the Chief Minister that she will remove misgivings about traveling to Kashmir and would be sending at least a group of about 20 tourists to the State every week which will include visitors from Greece, Thailand and other parts of the world.

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