Friday, July 3, 2009

Tie-up with overseas tour operators, special packages on anvil to attract more travelers

Various resorts being developed as corporate conferencing venues
Minister for Tourism and Culture, Mr. Nawang Rigzin Jora has called for a coordinated effort from overseas and local tour operators to attract more travelers to the State. While announcing his ministry’s decision to explore a possible tie-up with Cox & Kings, a well-known global tour and travel company for working out special packages for overseas and domestic tourists, he said international travel agencies can play a key role in dispelling fears about traveling to Kashmir as well as rein in their countries in withdrawing travel advisories. The Tourism Minister was speaking at a high-level meeting with the representatives of Cox & Kings, here. Secretary, Tourism, Ms. Tanvir Jehan, Managing Director, JKTDC, Mr. Rafiq Ahmad Qadri, Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Mr. Farooq Ahmad Shah and General Manager, JKTDC, Mr. Shamim Ahmad, besides other senior officers were present in the meeting. Reemphasizing J&K’s multifarious tourism potential which has not been tapped to its maximum, the Minister said a congenial atmosphere will pave way for never-before-seen tourist rush to the State. He said his Ministry is already in touch with the Union Aviation Ministry to increase frequency of flights to Srinagar, Jammu and Leh so that high-end travelers, having great spending power, end up visiting the State. “Our traditional handicrafts and rich cultural sites like Parihaspora, Awantipora in Kashmir, Mubarak Mandi in Jammu and Alchi and Lama Youru monasteries in Ladakh will attract a new class of travelers to the State,” he said, adding sustained media campaign is required to achieve the goals. Elaborating on the strategic initiative to promote J&K in overseas and domestic market, the Minister said a Rs. 10-crore high visibility national campaign across electronic media to be launched to showcase the State among potential tourists is being examined. “The campaign proposes to include promos on State’s site spots, culture links and cuisines and will target holidaymakers through print and sms contests,” he said. Referring to the frequent use of Internet by professional travelers in quest for newer tourist destinations, Mr. Jora said new information technologies would be profusely used to highlight special packages for such tourists traveling to the State. “We have a number of interactive sites on the web, which can be used to identify professional travelers looking for new destinations. What better option can they have than J&K,” he said. Mr. Jora said his Ministry will seriously consider Cox & Kings’ proposal for outdoor marketing for showcasing J&K by playing high-quality videos at strategic places like shopping malls, hotels and multiplexes, instead of ‘single static image format’ to attract the visitors. “We have found Cox & Kings’ proposal of a creative brochure and special micro-site on C&K portal extremely appealing,” he added. He said the government is also seriously considering promotion of known tourist spots as corporate conferencing sites, al a, Davos. “Various tourist resorts are being developed as corporate conferencing sites for which efforts are on to create state-of-the-art infrastructure so that India Inc and Indian chapters of foreign multinational companies can hold their annual conferences there,” the Minister stated. The Minister disclosed that special holiday packages are being prepared for various categories of tourists to the State coming fall. “The packages will cover adventure tourists, pilgrim tourists, heritage travelers and holidaymakers like honeymoon couples and family troupes,” he added. Urging people to play their part in promoting tourism in the State, especially Kashmir, Mr. Jora said the tie-up with Cox & Kings will also include a comprehensive package for safety and security of the tourists. Giving details about the proposal to package J&K, Mr. Raju of C&K said that the company has undertaken a recci of various tourist sites of the State for the last one week after which a detailed action plan has been prepared, which includes media campaign to bring J&K on international tourism circuit. He said though the State has sufficient infrastructure to absorb heavy influx of tourists, the government needs to work towards providing certain add-on facilities like better road connectivity, communication links, food, transport and guides to different destinations. “We have met houseboat owners, hoteliers and transporters and also visited several health resorts. We have already finalized a tour of Russian tourists to the State, the first-ever from that country,” he informed.