Dubai, May 10: Officials of Kashmir Tourism and some private tour operators are actively participating in the Arabian Travel Mart here to persuade Arab and expatriate tourists to visit the picturesque Kashmir Valley. According to Kashmir Tourism officials, their stall in the Indian pavilion is getting very good response.
A Kashmir Evening was organised in Royal Ascot Hotel in Dubai which was attended by travel agents, airline representatives and media personnel. For the last few years, Kashmir's tourism officials and the other players have been making efforts to woo back tourists from the West Asia especially from the Gulf countries. The important aspect of West Asian visitors has been the return of families after a gap of a couple of decades.
Prior to the outbreak of insurgency in 1990, a large number of Arab families used to visit the Valley and stay in shikaras (house-boats) on the Dal Lake and in chalets in Gulmarg, Pahalgam as well as in posh residential houses in Srinagar during the months of July and August.
However, in the last few years, tourism has been revived in a big way and foreign tourists have started coming back. The revival of Gulf traffic was initiated by the Galadari family from Dubai which visited Kashmir a couple of years back.
To begin with, direct flights from Dubai, Muscat, Jeddah, Bahrain, and Kuwait are proposed to be operated by Air India to Srinagar.
Currently, Air India is operating direct Haj flights from Srinagar to Jeddah with a refuelling stop at Sharjah.