Economic Blockade Afflicted More Loss Than Militancy: Govt

21 March 2009

Srinagar: The government has accepted that last year’s agitation following the transfer of State’s forest land to the controversial Amarnath shrine board and subsequent blockade enforced by pro-Hindutva activists of Jammu afflicted more loss to the tourism industry of the State than militancy. “The confidence of tourists visiting Kashmir was restored after a proactive publicity campaign by the tourism department leading to increase in the arrival of tourists. However, the tourist influx to the state decreased after last year’s agitation,” said Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora. The breakup of tourist arrival released by the government reveals that 4.11 lakh leisure tourists visited the State in 2004; 6.43 lakh in 2005; 4.75 lakh in 2006; 4.91 in 2007 and 6.44 in 2008. About the pilgrim tourism, the figures depict decrease in 2008 due to the land row. “Fifty eight lakh pilgrim tourists visited the State in 2004; 66.39 lakh in 2005; 72.15 lakh in 2006, 74.35 lakh but in 2007 but in 2008 it declined to 70.49 lakh,” Jora said. However, the Chief Minister said that the government this year expects 80 lakh pilgrim tourists including devotees coming to Vaishno Devi shrine and Amarnath shrine.