Jammu, Feb 7: The scenic Jammu region is fast emerging as a favourite destination for tourists from across the country and globally, as more than 1.6 crore tourists have travelled in 2018 to this beautiful region.
It was reported that Kashmir witnessed a bad tourism year in 2018, with only 8.5 lakh domestic and foreign tourists visiting valley, a figure lowest in last seven years, showing a decline of 23 per cent from 2017.
Kashmir received 11 lakh tourists in 2017, which means 2.5 lakh less arrivals in 2018, despite a number of promotional events by the Tourism department, with India as well as in some foreign countries as well.
But, the figure regarding number of tourists visited to Jammu region is remarkable, as it swell manifold in 2018, in view of the prevailing situation in the valley.
Besides, pilgrimage tourism, leisure tourism also took driver’s seat in Jammu region as people enjoyed picturesque Patnitop, Sanasar, Nathatop, Bhaderwah valley, Paddar valley, Kishtwar, Bani, Mansar, Sudhmahadev and other tourist destinations.
The Department of Tourism with an aim to woo tourists to Jammu region last year in April also came up with first Tulip Garden in Sanasar, which doubled the number of visitors to the beautiful spot.
“Jammu region not only have potential of pilgrimage tourism but its scenic beauty, picturesque and panoramic locations also attracted tourists to enjoy leisure tourism besides border tourism,” said an official.
“Time to time, we organise adventurous activities at hotspot tourist destinations to boost leisure tourism,” Director O P Bhagat, Director, Directorate of Tourism, Jammu here told UNI.
He said that in 2018, record number of tourists spent their vacations in parts of Jammu region, adding, “Governor Satya Pal Malik is very keen to boost tourism in the state and in future plans, facilities and infrastructure is also being enhanced to attract more tourists to the region.”
The Department of Jammu Tourism is also organising three-day ‘Jammu Mahotsav’ from Feb 8 to 10 to showcase rich culture of Jammu region to give push to the tourism sector.
As the security forces claimed killing highest number of terrorists in the Valley in 2018 including some top commanders and in view of rise in violence related incidents, tourists inflow to the Kashmir valley—famous as “Heaven on Earth”, declined immensely.
Contrary to that, as per official data, over 1.6 crore (160.469 lakhs) tourists visited to parts of Jammu region in 2018, which included record number of more than 85 lakhs Shri Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims.
In 2017, more than 1.3 crore and in 2016, over 1.2 crore tourists visited to parts of Jammu region and spent gala time at scenic and pilgrimage destinations.
Official date revealed that in 2018, 85.959 lakh pilgrims visited to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine, 15 lakh to Shiv Khori Cave Shrine, 16.450 lakh to Shahdara Sharief, 2.214 lakhs to Patnitop, 10.77 lakhs to Mansar, 0.844 lakhs to Suchetgarh in R S Pura, 8.620 lakhs to Chji Chi Mata, 4.5 lakhs to Sukrala Mata, 1.22 lakhs to Mata Bala Sundari, 1.2 lakhs to Sanasar, 4.5 lakhs to Ziarat Sain, Miran Sahib, 0.856 lakhs to Nangali Sahib, Poonch, 5.892 lakhs to Bhaderwah thus taking the total figure to 160.469 lakhs (over 1.6 crore).
Official sources, said that prevailing Kashmir situation particularly of 2018 after the collapse of popular government and rise in incid
ents of violence, was the reason behind increased number of tourists in Jammu region.
The Union Home Ministry also claimed that Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the maximum number of terror violence incidents in 2018 as compared to the four years before that.
Minister of State for Home Hansraj G Ahir furnished a statement in the Lok Sabha on a question related to details of terrorist, insurgent and extremist incidents that took place in the country between 2014 and 2018.
He replied that a total of 614 terrorist incidents took place last year in Jammu and Kashmir that led to the killing of a maximum of 91 security forces personnel and 257 terrorists over a five-year period.
In these incidents in 2018, 38 civilians were also killed, Mr Ahir said.
“There is magnificent tourism potential in Jammu region and the pilgrims visiting to Katra, also enjoy scenic beauty of Jammu region during their stay,” Rakesh Wazir, President Hotel and Restaurant Association, Katra and Co-Chairman, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jammu Region here told UNI.
Mr Wazir said that the Government must focus on Jammu region keeping in view the rising number of tourists, adding, “Kashmir situation is playing a spoilsport in tourism sector and thus attracting tourists to Jammu.”
“One who is planning his trip to the state will not come to face stones or violent incidents,” he said and appealed to the people of Kashmir that let peace prevail and welcome people from across the country with open arms, which is in the interest of the state and will give boost to its economy.
Rakesh Gupta, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Jammu said, “tourism no doubt has affected due to prevailing situation in Kashmir but those who have to visit Gulmarg or Pahalgam, will visit there but those visiting to Jammu, plans accordingly.”
“People of Jammu and Kashmir by enlarge are peaceful and tourists visiting to the state, can freely move in any part wherever they want to,” he claimed.