Jammu and Kashmir government has introduced helicopter services to the picturesque Gurez valley in the north, a move aimed at increasing the tourist footfall to the area. The chopper service service between the border town and Srinagar was launched by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on April 19. “Gurez is very popular due to its scenic beauty and it offers host of opportunities in adventure tourism. But very few people visit the place as it remains closed during the winter months and also the snow deteriorates the condition of the roads leading to Gurez. “We are introducing the helicopter services at highly subsidised rates so that travellers especially adventure lovers are encouraged to visit the place,” Director Tourism, Kashmir, Mahmood A Shah said here today. Shah said the department of Tourism Kashmir has been appointed as its nodal agency and it would also organise mega Gurez festival in order to go whole hog for its promotion.
He said the helicopter service will be available at Srinagar airport and at Bandipora and it is expected to attract travellers to the destination. Shah said to attract both locals and tourists to the picturesque Gurez, the cost of the helicopter ticket has been kept at highly subsidised rates at Rs 3,000 per person from Srinagar airport and at Rs 2,000 from Bandipora. The fare is one-way. The tickets will be available at the Tourist Countre at the airport and also at Tourist Reception Center Srinagar. The director said the helicopter services will help promote Gurez as one of the major off beat tourist destinations in the state and increase tourist flow to the destination.
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Shah said the tourists can now even reach Gurez during winter months owing to the chopper services. “June to September is the best time to visit by road and it remains closed for about six months due to heavy snowing in winters. Now, chopper services will allow the travellers visit this destination even during winter months and enjoy the nature’s beauty,” the director said. Situated at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 metre) in north Kashmirs Bandipora district, Gurez is 123 kilometre from Srinagar. From S’rinagar, the trip to Gurez in a cab takes six to seven hours, but the travellers can now reach the place in 20 minutes form Srinagar airport using chopper services.