Lucrative discount packages to lure tourists in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Feb 23 (ANI): In an effort to revive tourism in Kashmir, hoteliers and houseboat owners in the valley have announced lucrative and discounted packages for visitors to Kashmir.

Tourism authorities have tied up with leading travel agencies to come up with packages and schemes, which offer lodging, boarding and sight seeing facilities for tourists at discounted rates.

The tariffs of the houseboats and the hotel room costs have been slashed by fifty percent in comparison to the government approved rates, to increase the influx of tourists in the upcoming holiday season.

"The government has set per room rate as 4500 rupees but now we are giving the rooms for 1500 to 2000 rupees to all the travel groups. Deluxe houseboat rooms are being rented out at cheap rates. We are doing all this to revive tourism which has been hit hard in the valley, said Tariq Ahmad, a houseboat owner.

However, tourists have welcomed this initiative and believe that media should inform the people about the packages.

"This season we are getting discounted rates and we can avail them not just now but even in the summer holidays. People usually visit places during the summer holidays. But I think people should come to know about these discounted rates being offered here. We all think it will be very costly here but it is not like that. We can bargain here. The main thing is people should know they could bargain here. And discounted rate should be made known to everyone," said Sunita Kumar, a tourist from New Delhi.

Tourism, once a flourishing industry in Kashmir, has been badly hit by the ongoing conflict in the state.

But the state tourism department is using various tools like participating in India Travel Mart- a travel and tourism exhibition, to attract tourists to this heavenly destination.

"We have taken part in country's major Travel Marts. We have also done road shows in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat and we have got really good response from the people. We hope that the tourist season will see heavy influx this holiday season," said Farooq Ahmad Shah, Director Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir.

" If the tourism industry in the state revives it could become the source of employment for 70 per cent of the state's population. It can again become the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir's economy," he added. By Parvez Butt (ANI)

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