Eighteen months after abolishing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, the centre has acknowledged that tourism there has been on the decline.
According to the government, only 84,000 tourists have visited Kashmir since August 5, 2019.
Special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was removed by the centre through a presidential order on August 5, 2019. The region remained under lockdown following the move.
"The impact was felt more severely in Kashmir valley than in Jammu division," Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel informed the Rajya Sabha.
However, he said, tourist footfall in Jammu and Kashmir has been gradually increasing in the last few months.
A total of 84,326 tourists visited Kashmir since August, 2019 while 87,94,837 visited Jammu and 1,00,931 tourists visited Ladakh. The total number of pilgrims or tourists who visited Jammu since August 2019 was 76,80,775, according to data provided by the government.
According to Jammu and Kashmir administration records, the Kashmir valley attracted a record of million tourists annually between 2011-2014. In 2015, 9,27,820 tourists visited the valley and numbers have been declining since.
The tourism minister said no noticeable job losses have been reported in the handicraft sector of Jammu and Kashmir since the special status was revoked. "The artisans engaged in different handicrafts activities are continuing their job and the government is providing support through different schemes and steps taken by the central government," Mr Patel said.
He also said that the government released a stimulus package of Rs 5.6742 crore as relief in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic for tourism stakeholders. The amount of relief is upto Rs 1,000 per beneficiary per month for a period of three months, he added.
He told the House that this benefit has further been extended for a period of six months at Rs 1,000 per month and an amount of Rs 618.70 lakh has recently been approved by the government for further release to beneficiaries.
"In addition to the efforts of the UT administrations, Ministry of Tourism is giving financial assistance to service providers in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh approved by the Ministry of Tourism and UT Tourism Department for undertaking promotional activities including participation in international and domestic travel marts or fairs or exhibitions or road shows and undertaking online promotion or sales tours overseas to give boost to the tourism sector in the region," the tourism minister said.