Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tourist inflow to the Gir National Park in Gujarat, the world's only natural habitat for the rare majestic Asiatic lions, has dipped due to the intense heat.
This year several factors have affected the number of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts from visiting the sanctuary.Apart from the rise in mercury, global recession and the Indian Premier League cricket tournament have distracted the prospective visitors to this place.
Consequently, allied services such as hotels, travel agents and taxi operators have been adversely hit.
"Due to the heat and the IPL cricket matches, the tourist inflow is less. There are about 70 vehicles here. Sometimes we take one or two trips to the Park, but now it is even once in three to four days sometimes. The business is quite bad," said Rafiq, a taxi driver.
However, the officials manning the sanctuary sounded optimistic by saying that this is just a seasonal phenomenon and the tourist inflow would increase when the heat decreases.
They also pointed out that there is a particular time to visit the park as such tourist inflow is not that bad.
"For the time being this maybe the reason. But we are getting more tourists. Everyday the number is increasing. And there is a time to visit the forest," said Sandeep Kumar Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, Gir National Park.
Established in the year 1965, the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary covers a total area of 1412 kilometers (about 258 kilometers for the fully protected area (the National Park) and 1153 kilometers for the Sanctuary).
This region is regarded as one of the most important protected areas in Asia.
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