On the contrary, what is being witnessed on ground is that the Air fares from the state’s summer capital to other destinations increase manifold at the time when the closure of highway is witnessed. The air tickets are sold at a whopping price tag of Rs 7156 to Rs 13881 on Srinagar-Jammu-Delhi sector. 

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BHUPINDER  SINGH

          At a time when the government is making tall claims over the promotion of tourism in Kashmir valley, what is acting as a major spoilsport in the air travel which is getting costlier every day after with government making no efforts at all to put lid over such crises. The much famed tourism industry in Kashmir is facing a major setback due to the unreasonable air fare hike. The abrupt increase in the airfare has made it unaffordable for most of the tourists eager to visit Kashmir.

         A tourist from New Delhi, Ritu Rai, conveyed her feelings that even when this is not the peak season, increased airfares are hitting their pockets. “This is not the tourist season but still the airfare is very high. The rates of airlines are too high which hits the pockets of normal people. People think that at this time of the year, the rates will be less. Everyone has his own budget and when the budget faces a crisis due to high airfare, all the planning is disturbed thus causing disappointment.” She said. Jammu and Kashmir has bagged the ‘National Tourism Award’ for 2012-13 in the ‘Best State-Comprehensive De- velopment of Tourism’ category.

       The Union Tourism Ministry gave the award to the state, appreciating the tourism sector of Jammu and Kashmir, which has developed leaps and bounds due to stringent efforts by locals and the provincial government. Economically the cheapest and the best tourist destination. The hospitality of the valley is also well known and maintains the popularity of tourism sector. On the contrary, what is being wit- nessed on ground is that the Air fares from the state’s summer capital to oth- er destinations increase manifold at the time when the closure of highway is witnessed. The air tickets are sold at a whopping price tag of Rs 7156 to Rs 13881 on Srinagar-Jammu-Delhi sec- tor. Tourists are of the opinion that the fares are shocking.

          There are times when the air fares are around Rs 3700 on Srinagar-Delhi-Srinagar sec- tor and around Rs 2700 on Srinagar- Jammu-Srinagar sector. Various private airlines make tick- ets costliest of the flights to board. As there are fewer flights available and the minimum rates’ tickets having being already confirmed, airfare for are generally shown at the peak season as Rs 18200 from Srinagar to Delhi. The fare from Delhi to Srinagar gets generally around Rs 3795 while Srinagar-Delhi is shown as Rs 15366 for the same airline.

     The chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed earlier this year expressed concern over the skyrocketing air fares in the peak tourist season and requested the Union Tourism Minister, who also holds the charge of Civil Aviation Ministry, to explore operating Srinagar-Jeddah flights for facilitating Umrah pilgrims. ”I urge the Union Minister to consider operating additional flights on Delhi-Srinagar, Delhi-Jammu and Delhi-Leh circuits to counter costly air fares. We are tak- ing up with authorities concerned the issue of starting night landing facilities at both Srinagar and Jammu airports to increase footfall of tourists,” he had said.