By: Afaq Bhat
Srinagar: Tourism stakeholders are hoping that the recent decision of Jammu and Kashmir Government to reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) from 26.5 per cent to 1 per cent can help in stabilizing the airfares to Srinagar especially in the winter season.
A travel agent while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “We hope this year, air carriers won’t dictate terms and won’t charge according to their whims and fancies. Air travel to Srinagar during winter becomes more expensive than foreign countries. To regulate the air fares has been our long pending demand. One hopes that reduction of VAT from 26.5% to 1% will keep the air fares under check.”
Soon after the J&K government reduced the VAT to 1%, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia termed the decision as a ‘new dawn’ for air connectivity in the region. In a series of tweets today, Scindia said, “The UT of J-K marks a new dawn for air connectivity in the region. Following the lead of the pro-active governments of Uttarakhand and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands, the UT of J&K has also drastically reduced VAT on ATF from 26.5 per cent to 1 per cent.
“I thank Manoj Sinha for his prompt action owing to his commitment to bring prosperity to J&K. I also thank the two states and the UT of J&K for being the first movers in heralding a new course for aviation in their States. @pushkardhami@Admiral_DKJoshi,” said Scindia in another tweet.
It’s in place to mention here that due to inclement weather conditions, Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, only road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, gets blocked during winters for many days and it increases the demand for air tickets. It also leads to skyrocketing of airfares.
“In winter many tourists want to visit Kashmir but due to exorbitant airfares they change their plan and visit only those areas that are affordable. We have raised this issue on many occasions, but till date it has not been resolved. We hope reducing the VAT on air tickets will help in checking the airfares. Anyway it will be known soon as the winter is about to arrive in Kashmir,” said a tourism stakeholder.
He said, “If the air carriers sell the tickets at affordable prices winter tourism in Kashmir will thrive. The helmsmen need to pay some attention to what we have been demanding.”