'Thanks To Media Campaigns, Tourists Flowed Into Jammu And Kashmir'

14 October 2009

Not Specified: The breathtaking locales of Jammu and Kashmir attracted as many as 7.6 million domestic visitors in 2008, which authorities say is the result of various media campaigns launched by the central government to draw tourists to the hilly state. Also, various new projects are being planned to make Jammu and Kashmir a major tourist destination, union Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee said. Speaking at the All India Editors' Conference here on Social Sector and Infrastructural Issues, he said the domestic and foreign arrivals in the state have been steadily going up. He said domestic media campaign for the promotion of Jammu and Kashmir region during 2007-08 and early 2008-09 was launched with a gross outlay of over Rs.11 crore. 'The ministry advertised in various Hindi, English and regional language television channels and in print media,' said a statement. In 2006, about 7.6 million domestic tourist visited the state, which went up to 7.9 million in 2007. However, in 2008, the number went down a bit with 7.6 million visitors coming to the state. About 46,087 foreign tourists visited the state in 2006, while 52,754 came in 2007. In 2008, it was 54,697, he said. With the aim of attracting more tourists, he said they have identified spiritual destinations in Leh-Ladakh as a mega tourists destination and for which Rs.25 crore have been provided from the ministry under the central financial assistance. Also, they will be promoting and developing 20 rural tourism sites, which have core-competency in art, craft, culture and heritage. The secretary said a number of steps have been taken to increase the human resource in the tourism sector. With this in mind, they are planning to set up Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) in Gulmarg. 'The aim is to promote skiing and mountaineering in the area. Funds will also be provided so that courses could also be run,' he added. He said the ministry has sanctioned a food craft institute at Jammu and another at Leh in the year 2008-09. 'The central assistance in each case will be limited to Rs.4.75 crore of which Rs.2 crore has been released,' the statement said. About 5.37 million tourists visited India in 2008. In the first nine months of 2009, there has been a decline of 7.7 percent in foreign tourists arrivals as compared to the previous months. However, the domestic tourist visits in India increased from 309 million in the year 2003 to 563 million in the year 2008, Banerjee said.