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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 16:02 GMT
Fear blights Rajasthan tourism
Camel fair
Camel fairs are one of Rajasthan's biggest attractions
By the BBC's Narayen Bareth from Jaipur

Tourism in the Indian state of Rajasthan has been hit badly by the heavy presence of troops along the borders in the current stand-off with Pakistan, the authorities there say.

An annual camel fair in the state's border district of Bikaner was able to pull in only 100 tourists this year.

Women at Pushkar
Rajasthan is a key state for many tourists
Only a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan could help bring back the thousands who used to visit this desert state, one tourism expert said.

The slump began after the 11 September attacks on America.

It got worse following the attack on India's parliament last month, say the authorities.

Massive fire

The parliament attack led to a heavy build-up of troops by India and Pakistan on their border.

A massive fire at an army ammunition dump earlier this month further added to the slump, a senior government official in Bikaner, Nirmal Wadhvani, told the BBC.

According to the tourism authorities, at least 28,000 foreign tourists visit Bikaner district alone every year.

The government estimates tourists spend nearly 10 billion rupees every year at Rajasthan state's various tourist facilities.

If the current stand-off with Pakistan does not ease soon, Rajasthan may well have to stop depending as much on its ability to bring in visitors from overseas.

See also:

22 Nov 99 | South Asia
In Pictures: Camel trade in the desert
09 Nov 00 | South Asia
In Pictures: India's camel fair
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