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TAAI Convention Concludes: Tourism players leave with positive perception about Kashmir

As the 64th Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) convention concluded here on Thursday, heads of several multi-national travel and hospitality companies left Kashmir with a positive perception about the place.
Yossi Fatael from Tel Aviv, who is the vice-president of Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association, was among hundreds of influential tourism players visiting Kashmir for the first time. Speaking  on the sidelines of the convention, Fatael said this visit helped him change his perception created by media coverage on this region.“Yes, there is a certain problem here but despite that Kashmir is rightly projected as the warmest place on earth. Let the travel industry acknowledge that things are not quite hunky-dory here and convey the same to their clients. But let them leave no stone unturned to encourage prospective tourists to visit Kashmir,” Fatael said.
Fatael said incidents of violence have not even spared London and France but “life has moved on in these cities.”
“Many countries with worst geo-political crises have managed to revive their tourism. Why can’t Kashmir do the same?” Fatael asked.Dipak Haksar, CEO of New-Delhi headquartered ITC Hotels, who has been instrumental in pitching Kashmir as the venue for TAAI convention, says negative national media coverage can be countered by robust promotional campaigns.
“Any projection in a negative manner impacts tourism of a place. It is heartening that despite what Kashmir has gone through, tourists by and large have been safe here. I remember my first meeting with former Chief Minister Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed where he had spoken about “tourism for peace”. It is not impossible to make that a reality,” says Haksar.
“However, need of the hour is to have out-of-box ideas such as making rural Kashmir accessible to tourists which will provide them a first-hand experience of daily life in the Valley,” he said. “Sustained people to people contact plays an important role to dispel negative perception created by a section of the media.”
Bejan Dinshaw, who represents the Abu Dhabi Tourism in India, says considering that last time TAAI convention was held in the high-profile locales of UAE, “One wouldn’t have imagined that this coveted event would travel to Kashmir.”
“However, coming to Kashmir has been worth it, notwithstanding prevailing situation and the subsequent national media reportage on it,” he says. “Now I have realized that even if some untoward incident happens in a far-flung place of the Valley, national media blows it out of proportion. This badly hits the tourism value of this destination.”
“The media perception on Kashmir is quite unwarranted,” he says.
However, several tourism players didn’t want to squarely rest the blame on the media for its coverage on Kashmir.
“There is a security related problem in Kashmir and the armed forces and police are there to guard us. Every time we cannot blame the media because they report the ground situation,” said a delegate while making his presentation at the convention.

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