'Afzal Guru's execution won't impact Kashmir tourism'

Mumbai, Feb 9 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir's Minister for Tourism Ghulam Ahmed Mir Saturday said the execution of Afzal Guru would have no impact on the tourism sector in his state.

"The execution of Afzal Guru will have no impact on the ensuing summer tourism season starting March-April. In fact, the situation in Kashimr is so good in the past few years that pilgrimage and tourism have shown remarkable improvement," Mir said responding to questions by media persons here.

Nearly 12 years after a terror attack on its parliament brought it to the brink of war with Pakistan, India Saturday executed Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru in an operation that was kept under wraps.

Citing tourism figures of last year, Mir said that while Vaishnodevi shrine attracted 12.5 million pilgrims, Amarnath attracted 5.5 million pilgrims. The general tourism in the Kashmir Valley recorded 1.25 million visitors last year.

Mir also said that Maharashtra has contributed significantly to the tourism sector of his state.

"For me and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra in general and Mumbai in particular have always had important place in our hearts."

"I personally feel that decades of bonding that our state shares with the people of Maharashtra is in itself the best example of tourism being the major bridge of peace, bonding and prosperity," he said.

Mir added that Maharashtra was like a "mother state for the people of Jammu and Kashmir".

"Here I should thank people and tour operators of Maharashtra who have always supported in promoting Jammu and Kashmir tourism even in times of turmoil. And believe me every citizen and tour operators of my state acknowledge that," he added.

Mir said that the tourists who come from Maharashtra form approximately 21 percent of the whole tourist traffic seen annually by the state.