Mufti meets Tourism Minister

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Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, met the Union Tourism & Civil Aviation Minister, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, here this evening and discussed wide-ranging issues pertaining to civil aviation and promotion of tour and travel industry in Jammu & Kashmir.
Referring to the package announced for J&K by the Prime Minister, Union Tourism Secretary informed that the release of Rs.2100 crore package to be utilized over the next five years for promotion of tourism industry in the State will be fast-tracked. This, he said includes Rs.100 crore for restoration of infrastructure damaged in the 2014 floods.
During the deliberations, the Chief Minister also pitched for starting daily Srinagar-Jeddah and Srinagar-Dubai flights from Srinagar International Airport, which he said will not only facilitate Hajj and Umrah pilgrims but also open window of tourism to Middle East. He also urged the Civil Aviation Department to start early morning flights on Srinagar-Jammu sector as well as daily flights on Leh-Srinagar route. “Better connectivity will positively impact the tourism and travel industry in the State,” he observed.
The Joint DG, Civil Aviation, informed the Chief Minister that the department will operationalize evening flights to Sringar from March next year.
On the issue of exorbitant airfares during peak tourist season, which is perceived as a big dampener to the State’s travel industry, Mufti Sayeed proposed an upper ceiling on fares to make it easier for travelers to visit the state.
He also flagged the issue of expediting pace of work on conservation and restoration of Mubarak Mandi Complex at Jammu, which he said is a huge heritage asset of the state.
Giving an assurance to speed up work on the project, the DG ASI informed the meeting that a team of experts will be deputed to Jammu within the next two weeks.
Mufti Sayeed also sought intervention of Dr. Sharma in optimally utilizing Centaur Lakeview Hotel at Srinagar and ITDC properties at Jammu and Gulmarg to provide fillip to government’s efforts to enhance intake capacity for travelers in the state. He said there is an urgent need to revive these properties for creating additional accommodation for high-end clientele.
With bed capacity of 1200, Centaur Lakeview Hotel is set against the backdrop of majestic mountains, overlooking the fabled Dal Lake. Similarly, the ITDC properties are ideally located in Jammu and Gulmarg, which have a huge potential to boost tourism industry.
A high-level team of officers from both sides comprising Union Tourism Secretary, Vinod Zutshi, Additional Secretary, Culture, K. K. Mittal, Joint Secretary, Civil Aviation, Arun Kumar, Joint Secretary, Tourism, R. K. Bhatnagar, Chairman-cum-MD, ITDC, Umang Narula, Director General, ASI (Archeological Survey of India), Rakesh Tiwari, Joint DG, Civil Aviation, Lalit Gupta, Secretary Revenue, Haj & Auqaf, Mohammad Afzal Bhat, Secretary Tourism, Farooq A. Shah, Secretary Law, Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Executive Director, Air India, Pankaj Srivastav were also present in the meeting.

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