Panaji: The Chhattisgarh Tourism Board (CTB) has earmarked Rs.8 crore on a publicity blitz to rid the state of the naxal tag, which affects its tourism prospects.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji on Friday, CTB general manager P. Sen Bhowmick said that a detailed media plan was being worked out to counter the image of the state which is affected by violence of Maoists -- also called Naxals -- in several districts.

“We have started a detailed media plan to remove the stigma. We are spending Rs.8 crore on the plan and are looking to engage PR (public relations) agencies for strategies,” Bhowmick said.

CTB chairman Krishnakumar Rai said that instances of Maoist violence reported actively in the media were affecting the prospects of tourism in a state, which had only recently started developing its tourism infrastructure.

“People immediately associate Chhattisgarh with naxalism (Maoism), but Dantewada, Bastar (districts) where Naxal encounters take place  are on the Andhra Pradesh border. It is not like this happens everywhere in our state,” Rai said.

Bhowmick said that Maoists were incidentally targetting government officials and policemen and that there was not a single instance of tourists being targetted by them.

“The Naxals are targetting police and government officials. They are not bothered about tourists,” Bhowmick said.

Several districts of Chhattisgarh, including Dantewada, Narainpur and Bijapur, are affected by Maoist violence and according to official statistics, these districts attract nearly 2 lakh tourists annually.