Srinagar: Kashmir tourism is on the recovery path and inflows to the state is picking up gradually with the improvement in tourism infrastructure after last year's floods, a senior minister said on Monday.
"Government has put in lot of hard work and also due to efforts of tourism department tourist arrivals have increased which is a positive sign," Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said at a press conference here.
"Almost all hotels are fully operational now, and the tourism leaders should visit here and see the facilities for themselves," he said on the concluding day of J&K Travel Mart at the international convention centre in summer capital Srinagar.
Kashmir tourism department had organized the buyer-seller meet of local, domestic and foreign tourism players in a bid to boost tourism activity in the state at the travel mart that ended here on Monday.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had inaugurated first Travel Mart in summer capital Srinagar on May 16. This happened after 1988.
"It (Travel Mart) was a major success and it will have long-term positive effects. Nearly 185 domestic and 24 foreign buyers, tour operators and individuals related to tourism participated in the buyer-seller meet," Akhtar said, who was accompanied by Commissioner Secretary Tourism, Shailendra Kumar and Farooq Shah, Director Tourism and others.
The Minister said more such events will be organized so that it becomes a regular feature.
He said the state government and tourism department had launched countrywide campaign and it is now paying dividends.
"Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed recently visited Mumbai and other places and interacted with top tourism industry leaders and Bollywood bigwigs. It helped in getting things back to normal," he added.
Akhtar said, in near future the film industry's big banners will be coming to Kashmir.
"Government has decided to do away with bureaucratic hassles and issue clearance for film shoots within seven days.
"These things carry a strong message and acts as a confidence building measure and will help in reviving the old bond between Bollywood and Kashmir besides boosting tourism sector here.
"Now nearly 27 flights are operating to and from Srinagar every day and on average 7000 tourists come here daily. It is a huge success," he said.
The minister said efforts are on to make Kashmir a year-round tourist destination.
"We have roped in local tourism players and other stakeholders to give off-season discount to tourists. Mainly the period between July and September remains without much tourist buzz and related infrastructure remains mostly unused, such discounts will help in more tourist inflow to Kashmir", he said.
He, however, admitted the government needs to do more to improve road connectivity to tourist destinations and inter-district roads in the state.