Kashmir tourism stakeholders request UDAN scheme to the state

Tourism players of Kashmir valley made a request to extend the UDAN (ude desh ka aam nagrik) scheme of the central government to Kashmir region to tackle the skyrocketing air fairs, which hampers the flow of tourists to the state.

UDAN (ude desh ka aam nagrik) scheme was launched by the union ministry to make air travel affordable for people through subsidized ticket prices and to provide air connectivity to smaller towns. The aim of the scheme is to connect major cities with tier-II and tier-III cities at a price of Rs 2,500 per one-hour flight.

It is expected by the tourism stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir, that extending UDAN to the region can prove to be a boon to the state’s hospitality sector and ensure cheap airfares to passengers travelling to and from the Srinagar airport.

Presently, the tourism sector is bearing the brunt of extortionate airfares, wherein a ticket in the Srinagar-Delhi sector costs Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 on an average.  These fares reach the price range of Rs 14000 to Rs 20,000 per-ticket when the Srinagar-Jammu highway—the only surface link of Kashmir with rest of the world—gets closed.

“Kashmir needs UDAN scheme more than any other state in the country. Our tourism sector is in distress, mainly because of the exorbitant airfares. Due to skyrocketing airfares, even the intending tourists are giving Kashmir a miss as the travel packages to this place are much higher than the packages to the Middle-East countries,” said former president of the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir, Fayaz Ahmad.

He said the tourism players have taken up the issue of extension of UDAN scheme to Kashmir with the central as well state government authorities.

“But to our dismay, there has not been any positive response from their side as of now.”

President, Kashmir Young Entrepreneurs Forum, Babar Chowdhary who has recently submitted a memorandum of demands to the union civil aviation minister, said that they have raised the issue (UDAN) with the civil aviation ministry.

“I would urge other travel and trade bodies to pressurise the government so that it extends this scheme to Srinagar airport and makes air travel to this place cheap,” said Chowdhary.

The central cabinet on March 7 approved an extra fiscal support of Rs 4,500 crore to support infrastructural needs for government’s regional connectivity scheme (RCS).

By capping fare of a one-hour flight at Rs 2,500, it agreed to compensate the airlines for the subsidized rate through viable gap funding.

The Center has already allocated Rs 480 crore for the UDAN scheme during FY20. Consequently, the revised estimate for UDAN could now stand at Rs 4,980 crore at the end of FY20.