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Tourism can help counter Maoism: Selja

Panaji, March 6 (IANS) Tourism can be effectively used to counter the rising trend of Maoism, union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja said Saturday.

Addressing reporters after inaugurating the regional conference of tourism ministers of the western states and union territories here, she also underlined the importance of tourism in the relatively underdeveloped regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

‘Naxalism (Maoism) is an issue in many states. If we promote tourism in these areas, people will turn to job opportunities rather than turning to Naxalism,’ Selja said, adding that even the central government was keen on promoting tourism in the Maoist-affected regions.

‘The more we increase tourism in the states which are affected by the problem, the more opportunities for the people,’ Selja said, adding that opening up the Maoist-hit states for tourism would stand to benefit both the state and the people.

Tourism ministers from Maoist-hit states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra were a part of the western region conference.

Earlier in her inaugural speech, Selja also stressed on innovative rural tourism projects, which were aimed at strengthening skilled rural artisan communities in association with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

‘Under this initiative, we have identified 158 rural sites,’ she said.

Selja, while advocating the concept of eco-tourism, also stressed on the importance of afforestation and better forest and environment management practices.

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