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Published on : Friday, May 15, 2015
In this scorching heat in India, where tourists are waiting to get to hilly destinations for some respite from the glare of the sun, high air fares have dissuaded many from choosing the air route to visit the hilly destinations.
At a recent meeting of minister of state (MoS) for aviation and tourism Mahesh Sharma with members of parliament of Himachal Pradesh (HP), Uttarakhand and Jammu Kashmir (J&K), discussed the need to increase airfare for infrastructural development and creating enhanced standards for tourists. But there are concerns on the impact this move will cause to tourism in this peak season.
The airports need infrastructural renovations. The government will be funding 120 billion to the Himalayan Circuit. The places that would be included in the development is HP, J&K and Uttarakhand.
But upgradation is necessary to improve the existing standards and attracting better tourism. Bringing down prices will keep quality tourism away from these regions. Some existing services will have to be withdrawn. But with upgradation , airports will function with enhanced facilities. They will function with efficiency and utility which will gradually lead to fares being decreased.
Modernisation of runway, setting up refuelling facility, installation of interactive voice response (IVR) instrument and other such infrastructural upgradation would help in pulling down fares down at Shimla, Bhunther and Kangra airports in his state.
As for refuelling airlines have to tank up for return or onward flights. Also increased fuel load and lesser passenger count both lead to increasing fares. The rise has been estimated at 4500 to 15,000 per passenger.
The runway is too short in most hilly regions with an absence of IVR instrument making it challenging for narrow bodied single aisle aircraft like Airbus A320 and Boeing B737-800 to land.
This is the reason why a single flight cannot carry more than 40-50 passengers. With low passenger load the cost of the flight directly increases.
In some of the hilly destinations, the road transportation system are bringing better business so their governments are not focusing on building better air transport facility for a handful of people who travel by air.
There were also other issues discussed on adding the tourism value to hilly destinations and giving tourists a chance to view something beyond the regular. Enhancing India’s share in the global tourism to 1% from the current 0.64%, by organising light and sound programs at cultural and heritage sites and adding more innovation by offering aerial tours to attract more international tourists to these regions.
The Jammu and Kashmir MP Mehbooba Mufti, from Anantnag said that for Jammu and Kashmir tourism is the best way to boost the economy. Tourism will help in generating employment. She also felt that that there is a demand for convention halls in Gulmarg and Patnitop. The state is blessed with rich heritage sites and the recent floods have considerably damaged the sites and there needs to be restoration work carried out.
While Himachal discussed on improving village tourism and promotion of home stay. Uttarakhand requested for a monorail to Haridwar and Rishikesh and asked for better road transport systems and development of airports like Uttarkashi.