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Founders of ‘Lonely Planet’ awarded UN agency’s lifetime achievement award

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 31: Hailing the impact of the popular ‘Lonely Planet’ travel guidebook series on global tourism, the United Nations tourism agency today awarded its founders with its 13th Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The inspirational role that Lonely Planet inferred worldwide to travellers, writers and the tourism sector in general has been the major reason to concede the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Lifetime Achievement Award to [Tony Wheeler and Maureen Wheeler],” noted the UN agency in a news release.

According to the agency, the Wheelers founded Lonely Planet Publications in 1972, after a trip across Asia.

In the last 40 years, their guidebooks have sold over 100 million copies in English and other languages. The books also ventured into many other travel areas including a television series and an award-winning travel website.

In addition, through their Planet Wheeler Foundation, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, have been involved in more than 50 projects in the developing world, principally in south-east Asia and east Africa, with a focus on poverty alleviation.

They are also involved in a number of ventures, including promoting literature and the arts, as well as entrepreneurship and protection and development of archaeological sites in developing countries.

The UNWTO Lifetime Achievement Award is conferred every year to individuals with visionary leadership and significant contributions to the global tourism sector.

Kerala tourism lost revenue of Rs 1,000 crore since Nov 8: Tourism minister

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 4: Kerala’s tourism sector has registered an estimated loss of about Rs 1,000 crore, following a dip in the arrival of foreign and domestic tourists since the Centre announced demonetisation of high-value currencies, the state government said on Tuesday.

The cash crunch has severely affected the sector and the loss was estimated to be about Rs 1,000 crore since the demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes came into effect from November 8 last, state tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran told a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.

There was a decrease of 10-15% in the number of foreign tourists arriving while the number of domestic tourists dipped by 20-30%, he added.

The fall in arrival of tourists was “in contrast” to an increase in the numbers of both foreign and domestic tourists before demonetisation, the minister said.

He pointed out that the state netted a revenue of Rs 25,000 crore every year from the tourism sector.

“The currency crunch arose during the tourism season itself and so, things went wrong to a great extent,” Surendran said, adding that foreign tourists were not getting enough cash at airports on their arrival.

Even though several complaints were received in this regard, due to the Centre’s “adamant” attitude, the state was not able to do anything, he claimed.

Tourists were also spending very little money in the state now which had affected the local traders, said Surendran.

The houseboat business, one of the main attractions of backwater tourism in Kerala, was “on the verge of collapse”, he said and added that the state government would do “everything possible” to boost the tourism sector.

A total of 79 new tourist spots would be identified and an environment-friendly green carpet project would be implemented at these places, the minister said, adding that a special package for tourism in the Malabar region would also be rolled out.

The tourism department had sought Rs 1,000 crore from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board. Of this, projects worth Rs 362 crore would be cleared soon, he said.

Surendran, who also holds the co-operation portfolio, said the cooperative sector was in a “bad shape” and alleged that even though the Supreme Court had directed for provisions for cash in the sector, no step had been taken in that regard.

Madhya Pradesh to host second edition of Jal Mahotsav from Dec 15

By Deepak Arora

Hari Ranjan RaoNEW DELHI, Dec 2: The second edition of the Jal Mahotsav will be held December 15 at Hanuwantiya Island in district Khandwa of Madhya Pradesh, according to Hari Ranjan Rao, Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation Limited.

Addressing the Jal Mahotsav road show here on Friday, Hari Ranjan Rao informed that Hanuwantia near Indira Sagar Dam has been developed by the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation as water sports complex.

Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan planned to make Hanuwantiya tapu (island) one of the most sought after tourist destination.

Hari Ranjan Rao said “the place has been developed as main tourism destination and water sports center. Cottages, boat club and restaurants have been developed by the Corporation here. Attractive decorations have been made and greenery has been developed in the entire complex. Due to excessive rainfall this year, he said the whole place has transformed lush green and has filled the reservoir with ample water. Hanuwantia is also known as ‘Neelabh Jal wala Hanuwantia’ due to blue water spread over huge area.”

The first Jal Mahotsav was organized by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department for 10 days in February this year. It inspired awe in the mind of all visitors. Indira Sagar dam is one of the biggest man made water body of Asia.

Rao informed that online booking facility through the portal has also been launched. This time the Jal Mahotsav will be held for a month.

Besides Delhi, the road show to popularize Jal-Mahotsav has already been held in Mumbai. More road shows will be organized at Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Hyderabad shortly. Moreover a wide publicity campaign has also been in India and abroad. Information about Madhya Pradesh tourism and Jal Mahotsav was given at the recent ‘World Trade Mart’ held in London.

Rao said the house boat facilities, similar to Shikaras of Kashmir and Kerala, at Hanuwantia would be an important and attractive experience for tourists. Cruise, motorboat and jalpari facilities are already being provided at Hanuwantia. Keeping in view the success in earlier Jal Mahotsav and response of the tourists, fully equipped tents will be made available by the Madhya Pradesh tourism for the tourists during the second Jal Mahotsav.

The Managing Director said various activities, focusing adventurous tourism, will be organized. These would include water sports, island camping, hot air ballooning, para sailing, para motors, star gazing, water skiing, jet skiing, water Burma bridge, artificial climbing wall, bird watching, trekking, treasure hunt, night camping etc.
Needless to say that delicious food would be another attraction during the Jal Mahotsav.

It may be mentioned that the tourists will enjoy the trip amid natural beauty and plenteous water during the vacation. Besides spending vacations with their families during Jal Mahotsav, tourists can adore and welcome the dawn of New Year-2017.

In fact, Hanuwantiya is a tension and hustle free serene place where pure clean air and surging water waves encourage one to undertake adventurous sports.

Indira Sagar Dam site Punasa is the largest man made water body in the Asia. Due to Narmada dam’s back water, around more than 100 islands have emerged here. Series of island starts from its entrance Mundi and go as far as 15 kilometer to Hanuwantia, which is not an island but it is surrounded by back water of Narmada from three sides. Dense forest, wild life and colourful birds add more colour and beauty to this area.

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