Keeping in view the Gujarati pilgrims accounting for almost 50 per cent of the total pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine annually in Jammu and Kashmir, the J-K government is making effort for a direct flight between Ahmedabad and Srinagar to facilitate travel and boost tourism.
“We are trying to push for a direct flight between Ahmedabad and Srinagar in view of the large number of pilgrims going to Vaishno Devi every year from Gujarat,” said J&K Principal Secretary (Tourism) Sundeep Kumar Nayak at a programme held to introduce local tour operators about tourism in J-K.
Earlier, he said that maximum flow of domestic tourists was from Gujarat. “Out of a total of 1.15 crore tourists who visited Jammu and Kashmir last year, 93 lakh were religious tourists having visited Vaishnodevi shrine and 50 per cent of them came from Gujarat,” Nayak informed.
It was this reason, he said, why Gujarat is very important for J&K tourism. The second largest religious tourists to Vaishnodevi shrine came from West Bengal, he said.
Trying to allay the security fears owing to terrorism in the state, he said that security was not a problem for tourists. He said that the purpose of holding the programme was to attract more tourists to his state. “We receive around 15 lakh tourists during summer season and we want to raise it to 40 lakh during this summer,” Nayak said.
Stating that J&K was rich in cultural and religious diversities, Nayak said that the state was having Shaivite religious circuit in Jammu region, Sufi circuit in Kashmir valley and Buddhist circuit in Ladakh.
Ajay Modi, a tour operator from Gujarat, addressing the event, said that “J&K was always safe and is still safe for tourists.”
However, he advised the tourism department officials to update the tour operators in case of any violent activities so that the tour operators could convince the tourists in case of any blast or violent incident. He said that most of the blasts or violent incidents took place 50 to 100 kms away from tourist places and hence, tourists should not fear going to J&K.
Gujarat tourism commissioner Nityanand Srivastava and Principal Secretary (Tourism) Mukesh Puri also attended the programme.