Gir draws 81% more visitors this season
The Times of India
The extended Diwali vacation saw a record 81% jump in the number of tourists in the Gir Sanctuary, the last abode of the Asiatic Lion. Around 24,000 tourists visited Gir Sanctuary over the four-day Diwali period starting October 23 this year, an increase of 10,800 tourists in comparison to same period last year.
On Sunday, more than 8,800 people came to visit the king of the jungle on a single day, a record in itself. Principal chief conservator, wildlife for Gujarat, C N Pandey, said that this was their busiest festive season as people flocked in the thousands to spot the lions. What's more, almost 100% bookings for the jungle safari were done online. Even for Devaliya safari 50% bookings were done online.
"In the four days surrounding Diwali festivities, 81% more visitors came to Gir. The greater tourist pull is the lions and a large number of cubs, which can be spotted all over the sanctuary. In case of Devaliya safari there is always 100% chance of spotting a lion," added Pandey.
Like last year, this time too, 150 permits were granted each day, relaxing the 90 permit limit observed on the regular days, to manage the heavy tourist rush. "More than 1000 tourists went for Devaliya safari each day on all four days while rest of the tourists went in for jungle safari," said Pandey who is also chief wildlife warden of Gujarat.