About four lakh tourists visited Kashmir so far this year

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Srinagar, Oct 21: As many as 3.70 lakh tourists have visited the Kashmir valley so far this year and many more were expected in the coming months, officials said today.

In addition, nearly three lakh pilgrims visited the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir this year, they added.

During the turmoil, the officials said the tourist inflow drastically came down in the Kashmir valley.

However, there has been an upward trend from 2002 when the number of tourists to the Valley stood at 28,000, they added.

Tourism picked up and touched 1.80 lakh mark in 2003, 3.70 lakh in 2004 and the highest figure of six lakh was recorded in 2005.

In 2006, the officials said the militants made tourists direct target of their attacks as a result of which the influx received a setback and dropped to about four lakh.

Tourism is the mainstay of the people of Kashmir with a large chunk of population being directly and indirectly associated with the industry, they added.

The officials said Rs 425 crore would be spent on upgrading the tourism related infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir in the next three years.

The Jammu and Kashmir government with the Centre's help has taken several initiatives to boost tourist activities and as many as 20 Tourism Development Authorities (TDAs) have been established across the state to promote and develop various destinations, they added.

The state government has sought private participation in upgrading the tourism infrastructure and many ambitious projects have been taken in hand in this regard, the officials said.

''An incident in the Kashmir valley is blown out of proportion and some elements in the country have launched a disinformation campaign about the situation in the state,'' they added.

Recently, Jammu and Kashmir became the first state in the country to launch an electronic book regarding the Valley.

The book, launched on the web site of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, contains all information about the state.

UNI

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