Upswing in foreign tourists” at Assam’’s popular Kaziranga National Park

February 23rd, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by ANI  

Kaziranga National Park (Assam), Feb.23 (ANI): Assam’’s popular Kaziranga National Park, which is home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, continues to be a major draw for tourists, both domestic and foreign, despite travel advisories issued by several countries against visiting Assam following blast incidents in the recent past.
While domestic tourists have increased from a million to over 3.4 million, the number of foreign tourists” has risen from 7,000 in 2001 to 13,000 at present.
The national park is listed as a world heritage site.
The fact that today thousands of tourists visit Kaziranga is an indication of the park’’s popularity.
Besides, the tourist influx has created new employment opportunities and helped the local people earn more money.
“Our elephants have been engaged here. All tourists who come here, get elephant rides. There is a great demand for it. Earlier, the seat rate was less, but now, we have increased it to Rs. 300 and with that amount we offer one hour safari rides,” said Diganta Baruah, an elephant owner.
“I”ve been in this business for the past two years. The government scheme is going on well here. Tourists are increasing day by day and it is benefiting the business of the local people. We hope that the government would come up with more new schemes and is going to be even better,” said Hari Gogoi, one local shop owner.
To conserve and protect Asiatic elephants, the park organizes an annual elephant festival, which is considered to be the biggest in the country.
The festival draws hordes of domestic and international tourists who are enthralled by the elephants and cultural programmes that are performed here.
The event is aimed at raising awareness about eco-tourism and the elephant’’s struggle for limited resources with man. The objective is to spread the message of peaceful co-existence between man and animal.
“We must come forward to preserve these kinds of animals otherwise if we lose these kind of species day by day from this world we will be blamed by our coming generation. So they also have equal right to live in this world,” said D.D Bora, a forest ranger.
“This elephant festival, which is organize by the government is a good initiative. This is to preserve the wildlife. My wish is to take such programme to carry forward outside northeast as well to promote our region to other parts of the country. That ways people will visit our place and I”m very happy to attend this festival,” said Hashmi, ONGC.
Sixty elephants and over 20 cultural troupes from the state participated in the festival organised by Forest, Environment and Tourism Department in association with Golaghat District Administration.
Kaziranga has earned worldwide accolade and it has received several international wildlife awards for its exemplary conservation efforts. (ANI)

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