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The rise in tourists in Jammu and Kashmir is a sign of revival of the sector post the coronavirus pandemic, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel said on Thursday, hitting out at naysayers who claimed that the scrapping of the erstwhile state’s special status had taken a toll.
Speaking at the inauguration of the inaugural ceremony of the third India Tourism Mart, organized by the Federation of Associations in India Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), Patel said the data indicated that tourists visited Srinagar and Jammu in more numbers in January as compared to the same period last year.
In January 2020, around 3,750 visited Srinagar, while 19,000 tourists visited the Union territory in January 2021.
“There has been a continuous negative discourse on the effect of tourism in J&K due to the abrogation of Article 370. The data that is coming this year negates these claims.
“Some other states like Goa have also started showing signs of recovery, while states like Maharashtra and Kerala are still not open. We have to promote domestic tourism as international travel will be restricted for some time,” he said.
Patel praised the sector for its resilience and urged hotels, service providers, and others involved with the tourism industry to get themselves registered on portals, such as SAATHI and Nidhi.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also addressed the gathering and expressed his appreciation for the participation of over 250 delegates from 60 countries who attended the event virtually.
“This third India Tourism Mart holds even more significance as it is being organized at a time when the world is emerging from the dark clouds of the pandemic and countries all across the world are contemplating on opening up travel albeit with all health and security precautions in place.
“India has embarked on the world’s largest immunization program against Covid-19. We have not only vaccinated over 8.5 million people in India but have also sent millions of doses to other countries seeking our help,” Vardhan said.
Speaking on the advancements in healthcare facilities, the minister noted that while India had always been a popular tourist destination, it had also emerged as a leading destination for medical tourism over the last few years.
To encourage it further, the government has already started issuing medical visas and planning to soon restart e-tourist visas, as well as scheduled international flights, he added.