Love blooms in the Valley

DNA India February 04, 2006

SRINAGAR: Come Valentines day and Kashmir will play host to love birds from different states. Thanks to the special Valentine package announced by Mumbai based travel operators, the trouble torn valley will receive couples from across the country starting February 14.It is for the first time in 17 years of turmoil, that travel operators have focused on valentine day and announced packages to woo couples, ushering in a new era of thaw in violence plagued Kashmir.

Called the Kashmir valentine package, the three day four nights tour costs Rs 14000 per couple. It includes hotel accommodation, transportation and sightseeing at Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

“Interested couples can make bookings from any of our branches of Raj Travels network spread throughout the country. We expect a good response because it is for the first time that such a package has been announced by any tour operator in the country,” says Rakesh Gupta, head of Franchisee Raj Travels in J&K, which has conceived the idea of Valentine packages.

Gupta adds that the love birds will be provided special luxury vehicles from Srinagar for sight seeing in order to make their trip memorable. “We are doing our best to play good hosts and make the stay of our guests comfortable in Kashmir,” he says. “The package is valid up to February 28. It however does not include the to and fro fare.”

Elated by the novel idea, the state government feels that it will send a positive signal across the country and tourists will get motivated to visit Kashmir next season. “It is indeed a positive signal. If people come to Kashmir they will return with good memories. Through word of mouth, in the longer run the tourism sector will be benefited to a larger extent”, says Nazir Ahmad Bhat, Director, Tourism department, Kashmir.

According to official estimates, around one million tourists are expected to visit Kashmir this year. The figure excludes the pilgrim tourists who would visit Kashmir during the annual Amarnath Yatra.