Maoist presence impacting tourism: Vimla Pradhan

Jharkhand is a land of hills, waterfalls and pilgrim spots -- but tourism in the state is being affected by the presence of Maoists, says a minister.

Updated: Apr 28, 2011, 16:14 PM IST

Ranchi: Jharkhand is a land of hills, waterfalls and pilgrim spots -- but tourism in the state is being affected by the presence of Maoists, says a minister.

"The Maoist presence is affecting tourism," Tourism Minister Vimla Pradhan said. "Jharkhand has the potential to attract a large number of tourists but there is a law and order problem due to the rebel presence.

"Maoists regularly call shutdowns which send the wrong message among tourists and it ultimately affects tourism in the state."

"Jharkhand has beautiful landscape, waterfalls, hill stations - the sunset and sunrise at Netharhat is unmatchable. We have a large scope for religious tourism. Millions of people visit the famous Shiva temple at Deoghar," the minister said.

She said some places like Parasnath in Giridih for Jain pilgrimage have the potential to attract thousands of tourists.

"If the Maoist problem is addressed, the economy of the state will improve manifold," the minister said.

She has just returned from a meeting of tourism ministers in Uttarakhand. She said, "Jharkhand tourism could be developed on the lines of Gujarat. The central government has appreciated the efforts of Gujarat to promote tourism and Jharkhand will follow the Gujarat model."

Asked about the poor infrastructure at tourist places, she said: "There is a need for all departments to work together."

An estimated 66 lakh tourists, including foreigners, visited Jharkhand last year, according to official figures. The number has increased manifold from 477,507 domestic travellers and 4,620 foreign tourists in 2004. The number of domestic tourists has increased, with most belonging to neighbouring states like West Bengal.

IANS