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By Staff
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Mumbai, Feb 22 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir Government has forged an alliance with Maharashtra to give a big push to tourism industry in the Himalayan State.

Tourism departments of the two states held a get together here last evening where the topic of discussion was 'J&K - Your favorite destination'.

Maharashtra Tourism Minister Vijay Singh Mohite-Patil, J&K Deputy CM and Tourism Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) Managing Director Bhushan Gagrani and J&K Director General of Tourism Saleem Beg were among those present.

J&K Tourism Department's alliance with MTDC will develop the dwindling tourism in the militancy-affected border State. It will provide the Valley's Tourism Department an opportunity to attract Maharashtra locals and foreign tourists to a glimpse of the State.

The 'Tourism Alliance', as the venture will be known, is a conglomerate of different associations of travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers from J&K, besides house boats owners, tourist transporters, shikara operators and individuals who work voluntarily for promotion and development of tourism in the state.

G M Dug of Tourism Alliance asked the media to have consideration of tourism in mind while dealing with news dispatches on J&K and help them make the state a safe and comfortable holiday destination.

''Travel agents and tour operators of Gujarat and Maharashtra tried their best not to ignore Kashmir when the conditions were not so conducive for tourists. This has kept our spirits and hopes high for the bright future of tourism,'' he added.

Tsering Namgyal, secretary general of Ladakh Tour Operators Association, said, ''There is a lack of adequate flights between Srinagar-Leh and Jammu-Leh, while exorbitant airfares are levied on the Delhi-Leh sector. Flights are the lifeline of Ladakh once the roads are blocked in winter.'' ''Ladakh has not been treated properly by the civil aviation industry, adversely affecting the tourist flow to the region. The less than an hour flight between Delhi and Leh costs us Rs 6890 while as the nine-hour Delhi-London flight costs Rs 9800. Isn't it ridiculous? We will do whatever we can to remove this unfair treatment and restricted sky policy on us,'' he added.

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