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J&K: Insurance bait for tourists

Tourists are being offered insurance cover to visit Jammu and Kashmir unnerved by the increasing number of terrorist attacks on them.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2006 03:19 IST

Tourists are being offered insurance cover to visit Jammu and Kashmir. Unnerved by the increasing number of terrorist attacks on them, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation had been under pressure to restore confidence among visitors to the state.

Since the end of May this year, terrorists have killed as many as 15 tourists and injured nearly 60 more in separate grenade attacks. The killings had an immediate and adverse fall-out on Kashmir's tourism industry, which was showing signs of recovery till then.

Many of the casualties in these attacks were tourists from West Bengal although the number of visitors from other destinations within India dropped as well.

As part of its confidence renewing measures, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation has said that it will provide insurance cover worth Rs 5 lakh for each tourist. The insurance will not only cover terrorist attacks but accidents too.

The JKTDC will pay the cost of the scheme along with incidental overheads.

In order to be eligible for insurance, tourists will have to register themselves with the JKTDC.

Other incentives are also on offer to pep up the winter and autumn tourism seasons. Shamim Ahmad, deputy general manager, JKTDC, said the department would also give discounts on accommodation at hotels in Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Yousmarg, Sonamarg, Patnitop, Sanasar and Kud. Local tourists are being offered a unique fish restaurant in Srinagar besides a 40 per cent discount on accommodation rates in Gulmarg, Patnitop, Pahalgam and Sonamarg.

Common in European countries, this is the first time tourists will be provided insurance cover in the country, Ahmad said.

The Valley had its best tourist season in years till May this year. Over 3 lakh domestic tourists and 10,000 foreigners visited the state in the first six months, according to Dr Ghulam Nabbi Qasba, JKTDC managing director.

Qasba added that after a temporary setback following the terrorist strikes, tourist traffic has picked up again. “We have full occupancy these days. The overall rates went up 2 per cent this year and revenue too improved by Rs 24.69 lakh,” Qasba said.

The corporation is also banking on some aggressive marketing by agents in different parts of the country. “So far, we had such agents in Delhi alone. Now we have authorised them in all the major cities,” Qasba said.