'Record tourist arrival in Kashmir is peace dividend'
Jammu, March 26 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora Monday said 2011 had been a historical year for the state in terms of arrival of record number of tourists and pilgrims.
Speaking in the state legislative assembly, Jora said: 'Peace during the last year has given fresh impetus to tourism activities in the state, be it leisure or adventure tourism in the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh.'
Jora said Kashmir received the highest-ever number of 13.14 lakh tourists, which was 79 percent higher over the previous year. Ladakh also witnessed an unprecedented increase in arrivals in 2011, with 1.79 lakh visitors visiting the region, 136 percent more than the previous year.
Jora added: 'The inflow of pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine has touched 10 million. The Amarnath pilgrimage went off very smoothly and the highest-ever number of pilgrims visited the cave shrine this year.'
Jora also said that the improved atmosphere in the state is being seen by European nations as 'conducive enough' for withdrawing negative advisories issued earlier.
He informed the House that Germany had already withdrawn its negative travel advisory.
The state government, with the collaboration of the centre, is drawing future plans to boost the tourism sector, 'which can offer good employment to youth as well', the minister added.
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