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Tourism prime focus besides IT in Andaman & Nicobar Islands

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Port Blair and Around
Port Blair and Around, Photo Source www.andamans.gov.in

Port Blair, Nov 22: With tourist footfall going up by 23 per cent in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, the authorities have decided to heavily invest in the sector as well as in information technology (IT) to ensure holistic development of the islands, stakeholders say.

“Tourism and It would be our prime focus. At least four lakh tourists come to the islands every year and stay for four days on an average. The amount of money tourists would spend on amenities like drinking water, food and lodging, would be a major boost for the island’s economy if the number keeps on increasing,” local MP Bishnupada Ray told a select group of visiting mediapersons in this capital of the Union territory.

“Development is needed as it is a secluded place, far from the mainland. However, with proper connectivity and infrastructure, the amount of natural resources and potential the Andamans have, can feed all of India,” he added.

According to the Andaman and Nicobar administration, the number of tourists increased by 23 per cent from around 3.25 lakh in 2015 to over 400,000 in 2016.

“The administration does not levy any tax on the tourists. With the boom in tourism, the revenue that would come from the food and hospitality sectors would certainly benefit the region’s economy,” Chief Secretary Anindo Majumdar told IANS.

“According to our estimate, from the tourism sector alone, the government would earn revenues of nearly Rs 400-500 crore ($61-77 million) every year,” he said.

The archipelago, endowed with picturesque landscapes, sterling beaches and nature’s generous gifts, is eyeing a sustained flow of high-end tourists.

“Promotion of tourism, including high-end tourism, in a sustainable manner is one of the developmental priorities of the administration,” Majumdar said.

The islands — nearly 1,300 kilometres west of the Indian mainland in the Bay of Bengal — are a tourists’ paradise. The Union territory comprises 608 emerald islands with exotic names, out of which only 31 are inhabited. It overall enjoys a whopping 94 percent of forest cover.

One can laze around the enticing beaches at Havelock Island, or Ross and Smith — the twin islands joined by a bewitching sandbar. Sea-bathing and sun-basking at the Corbyn’s Cove beach helps one to unwind and de-stress while the Hilltop Gallows on Viper Island and Port Blair’s Cellular Jail are sure to overwhelm visitors with a sense of patriotism as the clock ticks back to the days of India’s freedom struggle.

The majority of tourists visit Port Blair, Ross and Havelock, which are home to various adventure sports like scuba diving, snorkeling and sea-walking.

Havelock, probably the most coveted tourist destination for its famous Radhanagar and Laxmanpur sea beaches, stands tall among all the islands, that are far less accessible for the majority of tourists.

Ray said massive infrastructural development has taken wings for the expansion of National Highway 4 that would connect north, middle and south Andamans.

Also the civilian and army airports are being upgraded and the number of flights from the mainland as well as within the islands would significantly increase in the near future under the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) flight scheme.

Conceding that building heavy industries in the islands was difficult due to its distance from the mainland, Ray said a massive Rs 1,102 crore project for laying an undersea optical fibre cable (OFC) between Chennai and Port Blair will open up new horizons for the IT sector.

“We are also focusing on building the Andamans as an IT hub as the fibre optic is coming from the mainland. All the major islands like Port Blair, Havlock, Long Island, Diglipur, Rangat, Nicobar would get the benefit of internet in the coming days.”

IANS

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Lakhs of towels, bedhseets missing from AC coaches – passengers are suspects

Besides, the Railways found 56,287 pillows and 46,515 blankets missing from the AC coaches in this period.

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Indian Railway Bed Rolls

New Delhi, Nov 15 : Affluent AC passengers are the prime suspects as over 21 lakh towels, bedsheets, blankets and other items went missing from air-conditioned coaches during 2017-18 an official said.

The passengers are suspected to have made off with precisely 21,72,246 “bedroll items” — including 12,83,415 hand towels, 4,71,077 bedsheets and 3,14,952 pillow covers — from trains across the country in the last fiscal.

Besides, the Railways found 56,287 pillows and 46,515 blankets missing from the AC coaches in this period.

“Together, the missing items are estimated to cost over Rs 14 crore,” a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.

While the theft of toilet mugs, taps, flush pipes and mirrors are also reported on a regular basis, the missing bedroll items in substantial numbers has posed a challenge for the Railways, which is trying to provide better amenities to upper class passengers.

Currently, about 3.9 lakh sets of linen are provided daily — this comprises two bedsheets, a towel, a pillow and a blanket for each passenger in the AC classes.

“The maximum number of items stolen are towels, followed by bedsheets, as reported by coach attendants at the end of each journey,” the official said.

In the light of the thefts, especially of towels, the Railways has decided that the face towels given to passengers travelling in air-conditioned coaches will be replaced with cheaper, smaller, disposable, takeaway napkins, said the official.

The Railways has already started changing the cover of blankets in some sections while the frequency of washing is being increased from monthly to fortnightly and weekly.

There is also a move to increase the frequency of washing of blankets to begin with and replacing the existing ones with the newly designed lightweight blankets made of soft fabric in a phased manner.

The plan envisages improvement of linen management with the aim of providing clean, hygienic and good quality linen to passengers travelling in AC classes, the official said.

Among the 16 zones of Indian Railways, the Southern zone alone accounted for the theft of 2,04,113 hand towels, 29,573 bedsheets, 44,868 pillow covers, 3,713 pillows and 2,745 blankets.

In the missing list, South Central zone has registered 95,700 towels, 29,747 pillow covers, 22,323 bedsheets, 3,352 blankets and 2,463 pillows.

In the Northern zone, 85,327 towels, 38,916 bedsheets, 25,313 pillow covers, 3,224 pillows and 2,483 blankets were found missing.

In the East Central zone, 33,234 bedsheets, 22,769 pillow covers, 1,657 pillows, 76,852 towels, and 3,132 blankets were stolen last year.

In the Eastern zone, 1,31,313 towels, 20,258 bedsheets, 9,006 pillow covers, 1,517 pillows and 1,913 blankets were reported missing by attendants after the end of the train journey.

The East Coast railways has registered 43,318 towels, 23,197 bedsheets, 8,060 pillow covers, and 2,260 blankets as missing.

(Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at [email protected])

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Conserve Nature with Ecotourism

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Vacation holiday travel

Ecotourism as a concept dates back to 1970’s, Ecotourism did not become prevalent as a travel concept till the 80’s. During the 80’s, there was an increase in environmental awareness and a desire to travel to destinations offering natural locations rather than standard destinations offering built up tourist attractions.

Ecotourism is a completely different approach to tourism. Ecotourism is a persevering travel to natural areas to appreciate the natural and cultural history of the environment and ensure that one does not disturb the integrity of the ecosystem and create economic opportunities that make conservation and protection of natural resources advantageous to the local people.

According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified objective of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects [both of the past and the present] found in these areas is defined as ecotourism. An optimum number of environment-friendly visitor activities, which do not have any serious impact on the ecosystem and the local community and the positive involvement of the local community in maintaining the ecological balance are some of its key elements

Principles of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is all about conservation of natural resources, using local communities and help in sustainable travel. Following are a few basic principles of Ecotourism that needs to be followed by those who implement/participate and market Ecotourism

– Build cultural and environmental awareness

– Minimize social, physical and psychological impacts

– Provide direct financial benefits for conservation

– Provide positive experiences for visitors and hosts

– Deliver memorable experiences to visitors to that help raise sensitivity to host destinations

– Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous people of the local community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

Ecotourism in India

The Ministry of tourism in India has also set a specific agenda to promote tourism in our country in a responsible and sustainable manner.

In recent years, it has been assessed that there is a growing trend towards travel to eco-tourism destinations like National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries.

Considering this trend, the government of India had discussions with stakeholders, state governments and the Ministry of Environment and forests under the initiative ‘Tigers – Our National Beauties’ and the stakeholders had raised concerns about growing dangers to wildlife in our National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries due to unplanned growth of infrastructure in these areas which is also affecting the corridors for movement of animals in the parks.

A detailed survey was carried out in different parks. Based on the report, the government decided to include categories of awards for stakeholders to promote and practice Ecotourism. Awards for ‘Best Eco-Friendly hotel’, ‘Best Responsible Tourism Project’ etc. were added in the National Tourism awards and presented annually to the stakeholders.

Jay Kantawala from WIYO Travel commented that “India has the potential to become a competitive ecotourism destination as we have abundant natural wealth. This also helps to develop the socio-economic status of local communities whilst also conserving its biodiversity”.

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India

Afghan plane sends hijack alert at Delhi airport, captain says mistake

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lightning-plane

An Ariana Afghan airlines flight from Delhi airport was stopped from taking off and the plane cordoned off after its pilot sent a hijack alert. The captain later said the alarm had been sent by mistake.

 

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