Srinagar, Sep 26: Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) elected Farooq A Kuthoo as its new President for the term 2020-22 in its recently held elections – the results of which were announced on Saturday in its 11th & 12th Annual General Meeting which was attended by most of its members.
Habibulah Pandow was re-elected its Vice President, Showkat A Khankashi was chosen as Secretary General, Mohammad Shafi Jan also retained Secretary Finance post, Sajad Ahmad as Joint Secretary, Irshad Ahmad Hazari as Chief Organiser and Ghulam Nani Bhat as Publicity Secretary.
Secretary Tourism Sarmad Hafeez was the chief guest while Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani was the guest of honour and Deputy Secretary Tourism Waseem Raja participated as distinguished guests.
Secretary Tourism while complementing TAAK for its effort in tourism promotion said the Administration will be at the beck and call of the associations in all its endeavours to attract tourists.
He said Coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to all the economic sectors especially the tourism sector globally.
“However, we have to rise to the occasion and start travelling and encourage others to travel. If we wait for the virus to go, the travel industry will be doomed. We have to live with it and also start our tourism activities,” he said.
He said the Government has put all SOPs in place and tourists can come who don’t have to go into quarantine.
“A tourist on arrival will be tested in just five minutes and he will be allowed to proceed for his holidays,” he said.
Director Tourism Kashmir praised TAAK for being one of the most important organisations in the Valley which has been at the forefront in promoting tourism.
He also assured his full support to TAAK’s new body in their endeavour to attract tourists back to Valley.
Director Tourism said they have started tourism promotional campaigns through national newspapers.
“We have already started a marketing campaign and we are hopeful of receiving tourists.”
In his welcome address, Kuthoo highlighted the role of TAAK for the promotion of the tourism sector in general and its members in particular.
He said TAAK has been at the forefront in advocating the cause of travel trade while at the same time promoted the J&K’s rich tourism potential within and outside the country through participation in roadshows, travel marts, travel fairs and special meetings with the union tourism ministry.
Kuthoo said the travel trade industry is facing difficult times due to Covid-19 and it was a changing task for the tour operators to bring tourism back into business.
“We have been facing a lot of challenges in the past also but we have bounced back as we are a resilient people. Our tourism industry was hit beyond repair in August last year and till today we are yet to recuperate and revive the industry,” he said.
Kuthoo urged the tourism department to ramp up its tourism promotional campaigns both offline and online modes.
Kuthoo also read out the AGM report to the gathering who appreciated the works done by the association.
Kuthoo comes with a bag of both domestic international experience
He has Masters in Business Administration from Indian Institute of Business Administration before pursuing his career in Tourism and Aviation
He worked for various multinationals both on domestic and international front In previous term, Kuthoo served as Secretary General.
Earlier, in his address, outgoing president Ashfaq Siddiq Dug thanked his members for their unflinching support in his leadership.
He said during his term as President he tried his utmost to work for the betterment of the members in particular and tourism trade in general .
He said TAAK successfully organised important roadshows during his term which include a Bangkok tourism promotional campaign. During this campaign, he said they involved Indian Embassy at Thailand and also mInistry of Tourism Government of India for J&K’s tourism promotion which helped the erstwhile state at a bigger platform.
Dug said TAAK has been most vocal in highlighting the problems faced by the tourism travel sector since past many years with the concerned authorities .
During the proceedings of AGM, Mr . Mohammad Azim Tuman was conferred with ‘ Manzoor Sidiq Memorial Award’ posthumously for year 2019 for his selfless services and great contribution to the tourism industry of J&K .
For the year 2020 ‘Manzoor Siddiq Memorial Award’ was conferred to Mr. Abdul Rauf who remains a living legend of the tourism industry and has rendered selfless contribution to industry from his very early age. The contribution of both the tourism veterans was praised and hailed by dignitaries and the all members on this occasion.
Both the awardees were selected by a TAAK’s special committee to recognise their services in the tourism industry.