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    Travel News

    Jaipur ranked as Seventh best touring Destination
    As per the current survey conducted by Conde Nast Travel, (a famous travel magazine), Jaipur has been ranked as the seventh best touring destination of Asia. This capital city of Rajasthan is well known as the Pink city of India around the world. The state has some heart-throbbing palaces, forts, historical monuments and temples. The state tells about royal lifestyle of rulers of the past.

    However, the pink city is completely different from any other tourist destination in the world. Ancient forts and palaces speak volumes of the brave Rajput rulers of the past. Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mahal, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Rambagh Palace, Jaipur City Palace and Jaipur Central Museum are some of the major touring destination of India.

    Road shows organized overseas to lure tourist
    The decline in the number of international tourist in India, due to the global economic recession and devastating Mumbai terror attack, the Union tourism ministry is busy in arranging the road shows overseas to get in touch with interior cities and markets.

    Australia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Ireland are the few countries were a series of road shows have taken place recently. The authorities are planning the similar shows in South America and Europe as well.

    These shows were held in collaboration with Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and Indian tourism offices in relevant countries.

    Mr Vijay Thakur, President of the IATO, said “With these road shows, we could educate the local tour operators about our niche products and create awareness about special offers available under the Visit India Year 2009 scheme.”

    He further added “Though economic recession has hit the travel industry, we need to try to overcome it by experimenting novel formats to boost sales. Road shows are the best way to be with direct contacts with the tour operators who create business for us.”

    Rohtang Pass most likely to clear till 10 April
    Tourists wishing to explore northern India have to wait for some time more as the Lahual valley; the connector of Manali-Rohtang Pass will be made accessible after 10 April. The Chief Engineer of 38 Border Road Task Force, I.R. Mathur said that the snow clearing operation from Manali to Rohtang by GREF is in process and the clearing would be possible only if the weather condition is favorable in the upcoming days. He further added that clearing of Rohtang Pass would be completed till April while an intensive effort will be given to clear out the remaining distance connecting Leh-Ladakh to Manali by May.

    It is good news for all the travelers around the world especially for those who are wishing to visit the place in the summers. Upgraded machines have been provided to the Border Road Task Force to make the process of snow clearance quicker and effective. Commander S.K. Doon announced that the road would be increased which is around seven-kilometer to Marhi.

    While addressing the media he said that our challenges for the BRTF are the 74-kilometer stretch from Stingri to Rohtang Pass, 40-kilometers road from Rohtang Pass to Manali and 162-kilometers from Baralacha to Patseo.

    Large tourist inflow at Kashmir
    The overseas tourist numbers have not been affected in India despite of the Mumbai terror strikes. Tourists from all over the world are regularly visiting the various tourist attractions of the country coming in large numbers to the beautiful Kashmir.

    “India is a safe destination and Kashmir is absolutely safe. It is open for tourist traffic,” Jagdish Chander, director of India Tourism, UK, said at the First Incredible India 2009 Road show at the Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel in London.

    He stressed on the fact that Kashmir was completely reserved for the tourists this summer.

    Pranav Sarkar, the honorary secretary of Indian Associations of Tour Operators said that the major tourist inflow is mostly from the eastern countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

    India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, who officially launched the road shows by illuminating a lamp, said, “It is really an incredible India, a land of vast diversity. The Incredible India Programme reflects the truth.”

    The road show included the display of hotels, airlines, attractions and various tour packages.

    Chander said “This year, our road shows are bigger and better than ever before. Over 30 exhibitors participated in the road show, raising awareness of their products among those working in the travel industry in the UK.”


    Kerala aiming for the tourists from Sweden and Russia
    The Govt. said hat Kerala is aiming the tourists from Russia and Sweden to overcome the economic downturn witnessed this year here on 27 March 2009.

    The state’s tourism department also participated in a four days (18-21 March) exhibition organized by Moscow International Travel and Tourism (MITT). They showcased their key attractions- backwaters, beaches and houseboats to the tourists in the exhibition.

    Kerala Tourism Secretary, V Venu said "We need to have an active presence in markets that are showing strong potential. Russia is a market that has strong potential."

    Nationwide Poll selects 'Seven Wonders of India'
    After a nationwide poll the Sun Temple, Meenakshi Temple, Khajuraho, Red Fort, Jaisalmer Fort,Nalanda university and the Dholavira were crowned as the ‘Seven Wonders of India’, here on 30 March 2009.

    The poll was organised by the NDTV in association with tourism ministry’s Incredible India campaign who declared the final winners at the gala cermony. This intiative brought millions of Indians together to vote for their adored manmade and natural marvel of the country.

    As per the TV network release, Golden Temple and the Tawang Monastery were awarded with the ‘Peaceful Wonder of India’ and ‘Spiritual Wonder of India’ respectively.

    Taj mahal, the ultimate Mughal art was awarded with ‘The Wonder of Wonders’.

    Sikkim observes stiff increase in domestic tourists
    The state of Sikkim is witnessing the growth in the national tourist and decline in the foreign tourists.

    As per the record maintained by the tourism department, 27,138 domestic tourists came in January 2009, which is about 5,623 tourist more than the previous year tourists who visited in January 2008. While in the month of february 32,038 tourists visited the state which is about 7,883 more than last year tourists.

    The thing that is encouraging the tourist department of Sikkim the most is that number of tourists in 2008 were also not so bad infact they were also really good. But the disappointing thing for the state is the decling number of international tourists.

    As per the records, only 696 and 1,053 tourists arrived in month of January and February in 2009 respectively while last year these numbers were 910 and 1,106 respectively in 2008.

    However, Sikkim observed minor increase in the inflow of foreign tourists during the winter season. The winter season started in October 2008 and ended in February 2009 and witnessed 9,173 internationlal travelers, which is marginally higher then the last year’s 8,811 tourists.

    India confident of drawing recession-hit tourists with new travel packages.

    Indian tourism ministry official said that they have developed several attractive travel packages to increase the number of tourists in the recession period.

    The Indian tourism ministry said on 18 March that it had developed a number of attractive travel packages that will surely draw the recession-hit tourists to the country.

    Several European tour operators who were present in the March 11-15 International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin expressed grief that the ‘totally unrealistic and unacceptable’ hotel rates are a bigger restriction to international tourists coming to India than the panic of Mumbai terrorism.

    The joint secretary of the tourism ministry, Leena Nandan, said in response of the prohibitive hotel rates in India keeping recession hit tourist at bay, “We have been evaluating the response of consumers and have in fact got a very good response to the road shows in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Keeping the global meltdown in mind, and in a move with the service providers, a number of attractive travel and tour packages have been developed which will be available from April onwards.”

    Nandan mentioned that the 'Visit India' tour packages would also include incentives such as complimentary sight seeing; this would attract the recession-hit travelers.
    “We understand that in times of recession everyone wants to travel and spend smartly. Therefore all tour operators who attended the road show promotions abroad stressed that all values will be incorporated in the packages and we have received a number of queries and a great feedback then on,” she added.

    The co-founder and director of Yatra.com, Dhruv Shringi, disagreed saying that the situation was harsh until a year back, but no longer anyone.
    “A year back, the hotel rates were high because there was less supply of three and five star hotels. So in winters, which are the peak season, the hotel rates were around 300-400 US dollars, while the same would be offered for 150 US dollars in Singapore. But the situation is changing now. There was a slowdown in the capacity in the last six months because of the recession but things are getting better. By 2010-11, I am sure that the prices offered here will be as competitive as anywhere else,” said Shringi.

    The director of the Hotel Association of India, Bharat Bhusan denied to comment straight away on the issue by saying that we have 'taken a note of it', while some of the travel agencies like the Welcome travels agreed with the statements of European travel operators.

    “You can't disagree that Indian hotel rates are steep. For the past few months that is the feedback that we have been getting from our customers. Of course the present meltdown has a role to play in it and we hope things improve in the future, especially with the Commonwealth Games around the corner,” Ashwin Dey, the member of the agency said.

    Act sensibly towards tourists
    The number of visitors in India has declined drastically as compared to other countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. The number of tourist in India on an average is 3.3 million a year is pretty low as compared to 7 million, 9.6 million, 11.5 million in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia respectively.

    Many tourists have been frustrated due to poor hygiene and infrastructure of India. In some areas, they have even been hassled and ill-treated. Although there are only few mischief people behind such horrible acts, the blame goes to the whole society.

    But the question arises how one should react to these anti-social elements and how one should increase the advent of visitors in India?

    The foremost thing is that we need to change our outlook towards tourists. It is not just the duty of the Government but also of the citizens to help the country in fighting against these miscreants who play with the image of the country. A country like India, which is known for its hospitality, is suffering from such a problem.

    Union Ministry of Tourism is making tough efforts to bring back the warmth of the country again. They have also taken a step to boost the tourists by launching an initiative called ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is God). The spirit behind ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’ is to develop the sense of responsibility towards the tourists and hence helping in preserving our rich cultural heritage of the country.
    Come on, Lets stand together in this difficult time and make our country more charming than ever before.

    Luxury spa chain eyes India as wellness tourism booms
    The economic render down has assisted the luxury wellness tourism industry. Most businessmen and senior corporate executives are choosing to beat recession blues by avoiding the exotic spas.
    .
    Sonu Shivdasani, Indian founder and chairman of Six Senses Resorts and Spas said that his chain of spas in Asia has registered a stiff increase of 70% in footfall in 2008-2009 as compared to the previous year.

    ‘The Six Senses spas in Thailand and Maldives are attracting large crowds, he said, adding that those in Phuket, southern Thailand, are drawing golf tourists from India - primarily because Thai Airways is now operating flights from five cities in the country.’
    As per analysis of Indian Tourism Industry by RNCOS (a market research company) Indian outbound tourism flow is likely to rise by 13.3 % annually over the period of 2008-2013.

    Encouraged by this picture of Indian Economy, Shivdasani said he is planning to build the firm’s first high-end spa on a tea plantation in the Nilgiri hill in India, nearby a garden owned by his mother.

    "We have just signed the contract. It will take at least two-and-a-half years to build the property," he said.
    The desired location of spa is believed to have high rainfall, lots of tea and is mere a four hour drive from Coimbatore. He is also looking for the sites in Lakshwadeep and Andaman islands.

    "Preventive wellness is a fundamental component, combined with sound nutritional and naturopathic knowledge," Shivdasani explained, presenting all the Six Senses spas across the globe.
    The company has four inter-related concepts drawn from ancient Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Thai alternative therapies and state-of-the-art-modules.

    Few Six Senses properties in Asian continent also function on an exclusive charity-cum-eco-friendly model. In their properties they have a building made of clay in the Evason Hua Hin in Thailand, recommended by the Conde Nast Traveller.

    "We encouraged the local Thai labourers to take on the million dollar contract and use the money to develop earth as a modern building material. The tradition of building earth homes, which are eco-friendly and cooler, is dying in the country. We are trying to revive it," Shivdasani said.
    The Conde Nast Traveler, Virgin Holidays, Sunday Time Travel Magazine, the Olive Awards, Asia Spa Awards, Tatler Spa Awards, World Travel Awards, and the National Geographic Adventure Magazine have awarded most of the Six Senses spas for their latest innovation and creative therapies. The company’s first property was built on the Maldives Island in 1990.

    Arts and Heritage Festival organized by Chandigarh

    The city administration of Chandigarh has organized a six-day Arts and heritage festival beginning from March 27. Apart from some proclaimed artists, about 500 artists from all over the country will take part in the festival. The festival has been organized to boost the arts and culture activities in Chandigarh.

    "It was a long-felt need of the administration that we did not have any regular integrated festival celebrating all the arts in a comprehensive way. Therefore, to promote art and culture and to facilitate the intellectual and cultural resurgence we have decided to hold an annual Arts and Heritage Festival," Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas said here on 16 March. "This festival will be of national level and artists from far East, deep South and from every nook and corner are coming here to participate. Our aim is to attract not only domestic spectators but even the foreign tourists and NRIs settled abroad."

    In the festival, visitors will witness the performances from well-established artists like Shubha Mudgal, Rajat Kapoor, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Malavika Sarukkai and Shekhar Sen.

    Tourists celebrate festival of colours in Rajasthan
    National as well as the international tourists joined Rajasthan peoples to celebrate the colorful festival of India. This year, tourist from all over the world painted each other’s face with gulal and colours and danced in the streets of Rajasthan.

    'We came here especially to be part of this beautiful festival. We enjoyed it. We do not have anything like this in our country,' an Australian tourist said.

    A large contingent from the tourist including ladies enjoyed dancing and playing with the colors. Local children drenched passer-by with pichkaris (a traditional Indian device to spray water) and the elders greeted the tourist with love and affection.

    'We do not have reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the state till now,' a home department official here on March 11. This is a result of intricate planning to keep up law and order.

    Rock Garden gets Rs.17.4 million for facelift
    The famous rock garden of Chandigarh, a major tourist attraction has been sanctioned a budget of Rs. 17.4 million for its maintenance and beauty enhancement, here on 11 March 2009.

    'Considering various proposals put forward by Nek Chand, curator of Rock Garden, we have decided to add more artistic value to the garden. The structural redesigning would be undertaken to improve the aesthetic view of the garden,' Home and Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas said on the occasion.

    Mr. Niwas further added 'the money will be spent on an assortment of things to enhance the beauty of the garden. Low height sculptures will be built apart from maintaining existing establishments in the Rock Garden,'

    Goa looks forward to international trade fairs to woo tourists.
    The Goa Tourism Department is busy in campaigning for the next season as only two months are left for the international charted tourist season, as per a report of PTI. The season that commenced in October last year had witnessed about 1/5th drop in the Charered flights.

    “Last year by February end, 499 chartered flights had arrived bringing in 1.31 lakh tourists, while this year till February end 448 chartered flights brought in 1.13 lakh tourists,” said Ralf de Souza, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG).

    The declining numbers have enforced the officials of state tourism to look ahead for the international trade fairs to encourage the tourists.

    De Souza added, “Goa's tourism industry should consolidate their market position in existing strongholds and then try to reach out to the other destinations.”

    To introduce itself as the beach state to the countries surrounding Russia, the state will be participating at the international tourism trade fair organized by Moscow. The state has participated in currently underway ITB Berlin trade festival. While the delegation has agreed to showcase the state in the Moscow fair scheduled from Mach18, 2009. The fair will last long for four days. “We are getting good response from these countries. The tourists from there either come via Russia or Finland,” added De Souza.

    The two major reasons of declining tourist in Goa were due to global meltdown and devastating Mumbai attack. The experts believe that these two issues damaged the industry to a great extent. “There was initial panic but later the season bounced back,” stated Fransisco Pacheco, Tourism Minister, Goa. He said the appeal of state Government to slash the tariffs was duly accepted by the trade, which saw tourism retrieve from disaster.

    “The industry in Goa itself contributes Rs 1,500 crore to the country but we have meager budgetary allocation of Rs 35 crore. This time, we expect it to be doubled,” added Pacheco. The experts of tourism industry feel that although the preceding season was not good, but the forthcoming season will bring in good news.

    Tourism Flanders to open representative office in Mumbai and New Delhi on March 14, 2009
    A region in northern part of Belgium, Flanders has launched its representative office in New Delhi and Mumbai of India on 14 March 2009. The Tourism board of Flanders had already conducted a soft launch in July 2008. The task of handling the representative offices in India has been assigned to Mileage Communications (India) Pvt. Ltd. Top tourism officials of Flanders will announce the offerings to Indian travelers. Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen are the popular destinations, which will be promoted through these representative offices. Flanders attracted 45,330 overnights by the travelers of India in 2007-2008 and is expecting a rise, this year.

    Mr. Sunil Puri, Managing Director of Representative office-Tourism Flanders while talking about the activities planned for Indian markets said, “We have strategically planned our business and marketing activities in India. We have recently participated in the Outbound Travel Road show 2009 to start spreading destination awareness on B2B and B2C level. Further, we are looking at marketing our products and offerings to the travel trade by organizing workshops and road shows, as well as to end consumers through various ad campaigns and promotions,”

    Tourism Flanders is presently talking with different tour operators for launching campaigns in various cities. They are also consulting with outbound players like Thomas Cook, Kings, Ezeego1.co.in, kuoni and Cox. “

    We are in talks with Strawberi Holidays for Mumbai, Carnation Holidays for Delhi and Discovery Holidays for Kolkata,” added Puri.

    Puri further added, “We are expecting to double the tourist figures from India especially with Jet Airways operating direct connectivity to Brussels from India.”

    Besides marketing in India, the board is also trying to capture Bollywood producers. It is planning to arrange FAM trips for top producers of Bollywood this month. They mentioned that their aim is to get at least one film shot in the region.

    International folk festival in Chandigarh

    This year, the international folk festival organized at Chandigarh has fascinated artists from different parts of the world. Artists from far off countries like France and Russia also presented their cultural dance in the festival. As per the organizers the fest is a revolutionary effort of Punjab Govt. to boost the cultural exchange between countries.

    Roshan Sunkaria, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh said. "The basic idea is that we are getting these troupes from France and Russia. This is just exposing our people to these Russian ballroom dances and French opera. Basically of course to entertain and enthrall the citizens here,"

    Artist from Russia and France displayed their skills through their traditional dances at the fest. Quadrille (a famous dance of Moscow suburbs) and another Russian dance ‘Kaleidoscope’ were the two traditional dances exhibited by the Russians.

    While the French artists performed the traditional dances like the famous ensemble of Marie Laure Vincent.

    "I think it's very important as its first time international festival. I hope next time we invite different country may be Italy and Poland," said Natalia Ryabova, Director, Esakov Valeriy, a Russian dance troop.

    Everybody welcomed the idea of exposing Indians to International folk forms. The perfectly synchronized dance performances by the artisans completely left the audience enthralled. Among the Indian folk dances, artists will present naati, luddie, ghoomer, sammi, bhangra. The festivals will later move to Kapurthala and Jalandhar.

    Municipal Corporation and the Punjab Arts Council took the initiative to organize the festivals.

    India among world's attractive destinations: WEF
    A report issued by World Economic Survey on 4th March 2009 stated that India has moved up three places upwards in the list of World attractive destination and has been ranked at 62nd position in the global ranking. The tally is led by Switzerland. Besides Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Canada are the other four countries that have been enlisted in the top five countries among the list 133 nations.

    Although India has moved up by 3 positions, it is still very far below from its neighboring country China that is currently at 43rd position. This year China has moved 9 positions upwards i.e. from 52nd to 43rd. This has been a far better improvement as compared to India.

    "India is ranked 11th in the (Asia-Pacific) region and 62nd overall, up three places since last year. As with China, India is well assessed for its natural resources (ranked 14th) and cultural resources (24th), with many World Heritage sites, both natural and cultural, rich fauna, and strong creative industries in the country," WEF said.

    The report also added that India has a good air transport network and reasonable ground transportation infrastructure. However, some aspects of its tourism infrastructure remain somewhat underdeveloped (ranked 73rd), with very few hotel rooms per capita by international comparison and low ATM penetration.
    "... despite government and industry efforts to promote the country abroad (India is ranked first with regard to tourism fair attendance) and the exposure given to recent promotional campaigns, the assessment of marketing and branding to attract tourists remains average (ranked 53rd)," The WEF, report states.

    "Another area of concern is the policy environment, ranked 108th, with much time and cost for starting a business, bilateral Air Service Agreements that are not assessed as open and visas required for most visitors," the report noted.

    The ranks have been announced by Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which measures the various regulatory and business related issues that have been identified as levers in the improvement of travel and tourism competitiveness in countries.

    High demand for 'Filmi' tour packages
    After the success of Slumdog Millionaire at international level and Shahrukh Khan’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Mumbai’s slums of Dharavi and narrow bylanes of Amritsar have become the hot touring spot of India.

    According to some private tour Operators, Dharavi is the place to encash the benefit of this global attention.

    "We have drawn ambitious plans for filmi packages. After the success of Slumdog we are trying to arrange tours to Dharavi also," says Ankit Rastogi, Business Head, IndiaHotelReview.Com, which has started package in India.

    Package Tours offering a visit to Amritsar or even Manali where Bollywood films were shot are also increasingly becoming hugely popular, he says.

    He added further "Indians are crazy about films and we recognized this innate potential of linking Bollywood to places. We are trying to showcase 'filmi' locations and urging tourists to relive moments of their favourite stars."

    Some other popular Bollywood tour packages are Amritsar (Rang De Basanti and Rab ne Bana di Jodi), Ram Nagaram (Sholay), Munnar (Nishabd), Manali (Jab we Met), Bhuj (Lagaan), Delhi (Delhi 6 and Chandni Chowk to China), Jaipur and Bharatpur (Jodha Akbar and Umrao Jaan).

    World's oldest steam engine ride
    In spite of regular slowdown and recession in inflow of tourists to India, the World’s oldest working steam engine ran in full capacity here from Delhi to Ajmer route on 1st March 2009.

    The train has the capacity to carry 60 passengers. The train operates only eight times in a year (four times in the first quarter and four times in the last quarter of the year).

    In the third go of the year i.e. on 28th February, out of the 60 passengers of this 154-year-old train, 30 were foreigners, a senior Railway official informed on condition of anonymity citing protocols. The official said that passengers could now book the tickets of the train by sitting at their homes through Internet.

    The train has ran for three times so far this year and all of them have been packed full. 24th January, 14th February and 28th February are dates on which the train ran this year. 15 seats of next journey of the train is already booked that is scheduled to be on March 14, 2009. The cost of traveling the train is Rs 8600 per person for both sides while for a single side the cost is Rs. 6000 per person.

    “Fairy Queen” first ran in 1855 under the guidance of East Indian Railway. It is presently the oldest working railway engine in the world.
    On 13 January 1998, it got recognition from the 'Guinness Book of World Records' as oldest working engine of the world.

    A two-day tour package is being offered by Railways which consists of
    on-ground catering, boarding, lodging, transfer facility, cultural programme, a visit to Sariska National Park, the official said.

    “The train, which relives history, culture and heritage of its estinations in Rajasthan, has only one 60-seater AC passenger coach and a pantry, which serves delicious Rajasthani cuisine to its passengers,” the official said. The destinations covered by the train include Alwar and the famous Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary.

    This heritage train was first displayed in 1971 at National Rail Museum at Delhi. In July1997, the train made its first commercial trip. While in 1999, it was considered as a unique and the most innovated tourism project and awarded the National Tourism award by the Prime Minister the official added.

    India's first food park established at Haridwar

    To boost the country’s food processing industry, the first step of the establishment of first mega Food Park in India has been taken by the Government. The food park’s foundation stone was laid down by Subodh Kant Sahai, minister of State for Food Processing Industries on 25th February 2009. The Park is named ‘Patanjali Food and Herbal Park’. Pitanjali Yog Peeth issued a statement regarding the establishment of the food park.

    As per the statement issued by Patanjali Yog Peeth, “A couple of factories linked to food processing will be started, covering an area of about 95 acres. It is a first step taken the Patanjali Yog Peeth of Haridwar towards empowerment of agro economy of the state.”

    In the statement, it was further mentioned, “Park would cost Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion). It will have 32 processing units to obtain value-added products of fruits and vegetables like juice, pulp, puree, candies, herbal products and pickles.”

    Entrepreneurs from all over the country will be linked with this mega project, sharing common infrastructure and support services, as per the statement issued.

    "It will be a boon for the growers of these fruits and vegetables since they can give their bulk produce to feed this mega utility park," Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali Yog Peeth said in the statement.

    "...The growers will be trained how to grow amla and aloe vera crops on barren lands by the training centres of the food park," he said, adding that Patanjali Yog Peeth will develop 100 such centres which shall also provide good quality seed and manure to farmers.

    Mega Food Parks Scheme launched by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries under the 11th Plan to boost the country's booming food processing industry by reducing wastage of produce at the farm level and establishing a supply chain management that will take food in processed form from the farm gate to the retail outlet.

    Though 30 such parks are being visualized in the Plan, initially 10 such parks will establish in the first phase,

    The plan included the establishment of 30 parks. But initially, 10 parks will be established in the first phase, each of which has a development timeof two years. In the first phase, besides Haridwar, the other nine parks are planned to come up at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu, Jalandhar in Punjab, Shirwal in Maharashtra, Chikmagalur in Karnataka, Jangipur in West Bengal, Nalbari in Assam, Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, and Ranchi in Jharkhand.

    INTACH, Spain to make Varanasi World Heritage City
    There is a strong probability that the holy city Varanasi may become India’s first 'World Heritage City' if INTACH, Spain has its way.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MFAC) of Spain and Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 9 Februay, 2009. Under the memorandum, it is stated that the two agencies will jointly save the heritage monuments in the temple town of Varanasi and develop top class infrastructure in the area.

    INTACH Chairman S K Misra after signing the Memorandum of Understanding Ion De said "We have decided to work together to get Varanasi declared as a 'World Heritage City'. This is the beginning of a series of cooperation with Spain,"

    On the occasion, the Ambassador of Spain, La Riva Guzman de Frutos, who also accompanied S K Misra said “INTACH should act as a "nanny" for the transformation of the country's traditional cities as they lack infrastructure facilities.”

    Earlier the Industrial city ‘Bilbao’ and the city ‘Barcelona’ who has also hosted the Olympic games have been preserved and restored by the Experts in Spain.

    Visit India 2009
    India’s Union Ministry of Tourism is launching a new scheme to boost the confidence of tourists, after the devastating attack in Mumbai. The scheme has been named ‘Visit India 2009’. Under the scheme both tourists as well as the tourism industry would be offered various incentives. The scheme would be applicable for the tourists who visit India between April 2009 to March 2010.

    One complementary international air passage for the companion, one night complementary stay in the hotel booked by the traveler, complementary sightseeing in any one city of tourist’s choice along with a complementary rural eco holiday are the advantages that would be provided to the visitors. The criterion is to provide one additional service for every paid service by the tourist. This would be done with the help of organizations like Hotel Association of India (HAI) and Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).

    The major three airlines of the country – Jet Airways, Air India and Kingfisher have agreed to the Government’s proposal with a condition of providing the additional air passage for traveling companions. The Department of Tourism has few other plans to encourage the tourists. The department is planning to arrange road shows in some of the foreign countries like Singapore, UK, Japan, Canada and Australia, in joint ventures with the IATO. The upcoming months will also see a rise in advertisements and marketing through exhibitions and Trade Fairs to catch the attention of the tourists from all around the world.

    Sikkim Govt. launches Casino Sikkim to attract tourists
    The Sikkim Government has recently launched a casino to draw the tourist attention to the state. Sikkim is the only state in the country, which is providing the land-based live casino services and complete gaming to the tourists. The state has witnessed 20% increase in the tourist inflow as compared to the last few years.

    ‘Casino Sikkim’ is the first casino of the state opened at the Royal Plaza Hotel.

    The CEO of Casino Sikkim, Naresh Subba said that all this has been made possible with the support of the state Government. “The Sikkim Government has trusted us and have given me the responsibility to come up with the casino and then to attract the tourists. With the airport foundation stone and ritual being done recently, I see a nightlife market for tourists,” said Naresh Subba.

    The casino has also generated few employment opportunities for the youth (not exposed to the outside world), besides boosting the economic activities of the region.

    A tour operator, Deepak Rai said, “From casino, we will definitely get an advantage and high profile tourists will be attracted. In the northeastern side, Sikkim is the only state where casino was opened recently.”

    The State Government’s target is to attract national as well as international tourists with casino bid, which has by now created ripples in the hospitality sector.

    President's Nature Trail timings changed for summer season
    The Nature Trail created to spread awareness on conservation of eco-heritage in the President’s Estate will have new timings for summer. The Natural Trail will now open between 9 A.M. to 12 P.M. for the visitors. These timing would be applicable from March 28.

    The trail is the consequence of President’s intense interest to protect Rashtrapati Bhawan’s ecological heritage. It is a part of the Roshini project, which is an effort to make the President’s estate green, energy efficient and zero waste model townships.

    The ecological heritage is an effort for providing education about natural and environmental awareness amongst the visitors and the students. The trail gives the opportunity to the visitor to walk through 75 acres land of President’s Estate. The place has an agro-eco system, forest eco-system and a pond-eco system as well.

    Asia’s biggest Tulip Garden opens for tourists
    Kashmir’s Tulip garden located at Zabarwan hills of charming Kashmir valley opens here on 24 March 2009. The Chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was amongst the first entrants of the garden. This sprawling garden is spread over 30 hectares of land and have around 12 lakh tulip bulbs in as many as 70 different varieties.

    The Chief minister along with Assembly Speaker Mohammed Akbar Lone personally bought the tickets and enjoyed the mesmerizing beauty of the Tulip Garden. Omar abstained from giving any further statements on beautification of the garden in view of the current model code of conduct.

    The young Chief Minister was totally mesmerized from the four-terraced rows of tulips, which appeared like a beautiful rainbow in bloom. “Its beautiful and I don't think I need to add anything more to it,” Omar said.

    This beautiful garden is situated at Siraj Bagh just opposite to the famous Dal Lake. Siraj Bagh has an exceptional topography. The place has plains as well as foothills. Plains are best suited for different varieties of flowers while the slopes are best suited for plantation of fruits.

    The garden is an innovation of previous Chief Minister of the state, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Last year, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the garden on 29 March 2008. The garden was named as the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden.

    Last year, the garden attracted more than a lakh visitors and the authorities earned Rs. 30 lakh from these visitors.

    This year the state is expecting more than the previous year visitors.

    Indian travel agents invited by Thailand Tourism Industry
    Thailand’s tourism authority is arranging roadshows in the three major cities of Ahemdabad, Chandigarh, and New Delhi on 23rd, 25th and 27th March respectively. The authority received an overwhelming response from travel and tourism industry. In these roadshows, 19 Thai Suppliers, representing a broad mix of hotels, tour operators, attractions, theme parks and health & Wellness facilities from all over the world will take part. More than 500 invited Indian Agents will be meeting with Thai suppliers. Presentation of new products, a tabletop forum for business discussions and a hosted dinner will be the major purpose of these roadshows.

    It is an attempt to widen the base of visitor arrivals and give disclosure to the Thai tourism products and services. India has been recognized as the important potential market for Thai Tourism industry as the country has a potential base of 300 million medium class consumers approximately. All the metropolitan cities of India New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are at a flying distance of less than four hours. For the Indians who are endeavoring abroad for the first time, Thailand is most likely the best place. The place offers great value for money.

    Thailand is becoming popular in Indian honeymooners, for movie shootings, and advertising clips. Large inflows of visiting friends and relatives and students are also observed in the country. Indians are also provided visas at all international gateways in Thailand at the time of arrival. Forthcoming free trade agreement between India, Thailand and ASEAN will drastically encourage the business travel and MICE business in the coming time.

    In 2008, total number of visitors of India to Thailand was 4,82,925. The numbers have declined by 4.60% as compared to the previous year numbers. But, TAT is confident to step up the number of tourist by adopting marketing measure so that it can hit the target of 5,08,000, an increase of 5.19% in 2009. In the year 2007, the average period of stay of Indian visitors was just under seven days and the expenses was around US$136 per day for a single person.
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