Monday, October 07, 2013

Foreign tourists make 60% of 900 online bookings for Gir

Foreign tourists make 60% of 900 online bookings for Gir
The Times of India

It is as if foreign nationals were waiting for the best chance to book their tryst with Asiatic lions. Even since online bookings began on October 3, over 900 booking have been done and of these 502 were by foreign nationals or from overseas.

Officials said that of the 900 bookings till Friday evening, only 398 are for Indian nationals and of these, over 60% are from outside Gujarat. Officials said that the maximum bookings from within the state were for November 4 to November 8 - New Year to Labh Pacham - when business establishments are closed.

Officials said the Gujarat forest department had launched online booking service precisely in order to facilitate foreigners and those coming from outside Gujarat for a visit to Sasan. The department has launched the online facility and also facilitated payment by credit or debit card for visits to the Gir Interpretation Zones at Sasan and Devaliya this season. The sanctuary reopens on October 15.

On average, the forest department issues 90 permits for each day the sanctuary is open in a season. Of these, 50% permits will be reserved for online bookings, sources said. The remaining will be reserved for on-the-spot bookings which will be issued at the interpretation zone in Sasan.

Deputy conservator of forests (headquarters) Sandeep Kumar said that all 900 bookings are for the Gir sanctuary. He said "in order to keep a check on incidents of cornering of tickets byhotels in and around Gir, we are monitoring the locations from where bookings are done. Also, one mobile number can book one permit only. A person is sent a system-generated code on his mobile after which he can book his permit.

Kumar said the number of bookings on Saturday and Sunday are almost completely booked. There are less than 10 booking left for Saturdays and Sundays and these are mainly by local tourists.

The Forest department on Saturday finally named the five cubs. The male cubs were named as Shardul, Yuvraj and Vanraj while the female cubs will be Heer and Mallika. On October 2, the forest department with the help of villagers and Maldharis had shortlisted 25 names which were put on social media. About 955 people suggested names and most votes were given to Yuvraj, Vanraj and Shardul for males, while for the females it was Heer and Mallika.

For the first time, maldharis and villagers from Sasan took part in a grand ceremony - naamkaran vidhi -in Sasan on the birth anniversary of the father of the nation, which also marked the opening of Wildlife Week.

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