More tourists visiting Kashmir: Tourism Minister

Minister says domestic visitors supported Indian tourism in pandemic times

Tourist inflow in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has risen from over 3,700 persons in January 2020 to 19,000 persons in January 2021, Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday, during a debate on the working of his Ministry.

Mr. Patel said the government would not change the goalpost of doubling the number of foreign tourists by 2024, despite the year 2020 being a “zero year” because of the COVID pandemic.

“I want to thank the domestic tourists who supported Indian tourism in these testing times,” he said.

Mr. Patel was responding to Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan’s statement that earlier, foreign tourists used to come to India to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but that changed because of the law and order situation there. She said there was a need to address this issue.

Mr. Patel said: “Many members spoke about Jammu and Kashmir. Let me tell you in January 2020, J&K had only 3,000-odd tourists while in January 2021, nearly 19,000 tourists went there.”

He was only referring to domestic tourists. He also said that after the Tourism Ministry’s meetings with the Hindi film industry, 26 films were currently being shot in the Union Territory.

Mr. Patel also countered the criticism that the government did not come forward to help the tourism sector.

‘More hotels listed’

“Whenever any stakeholder has asked us for help, we have come forward. Now let me tell you, that till recently, the Tourism Ministry only had a list of 1,400 hotels. Can anyone believe that India has only 1,400 hotels? Because of our efforts during the pandemic, now 39,000 hotels have been registered on our portal,” he said.

He said the current vaccine export from India would vastly improve the country’s image. “Despite the fact that 2020 was a zero year, I will not change the target set by PM Modi to double the number of foreign tourists coming to India,” he said.

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