Category Archives: International

Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust wins UNWTO Award


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Turismo de Portugal I.P (Portugal), Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust (India), Tryponyu (Indonesia) and SEGGITUR (Spain) are the winners of the 14th Edition of the UNWTO Awards for Innovation in Tourism.   Fourteen projects among 128 applicants from 55 countries were selected as finalists of the 14th UNWTO Awards for Innovation in Tourism. 

Read: A unique effort at Mangalajodi gets nominated for the UNWTO Award

Sanjib Sarangi and Reena from Mangalajodi with Tricolour

Sanjib Sarangi of the Indian Grameen Services (IGS) and Reena from the Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust attended the award ceremony and were overjoyed with the announcement of the award. They accepted the award and unfurled the Indian Tricolour at the stage. Indian Grameen Services overlooks the Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust project. Mangalajodi Trust was the only Indian nomination in this year’s UNWTO awards.

The winning projects, divided into four categories – Public Policy and Governance, Research and Technology, Enterprises, and Non-governmental Organizations –, have been announced at the UNWTO Awards Ceremony held Wednesday, 17th January evening in Madrid at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Spain (FITUR).

Sanjib Sarangi and Reena from Mangalajodi trust accepting the award

“Today we honour the vision and commitment of individuals, administrations, companies and organizations that every day build a better future by harnessing the potential of tourism. The work of all the finalists of the 14 UNWTO Awards on Innovation is an inspiration to all of us”, underlined UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, in his opening remarks.

Overjoyed Sanjib and Reena after announcement of the winner in their category

Attended by nearly 500 participants from different countries, the UNWTO Awards Ceremony, co-organized by IFEMA|FITUR, emphasized how the tourism community has embraced sustainable and innovative approaches.

Sanjib Sarangi of the IGS speaking at the event in his acceptance speech

The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism are held annually to highlight and promote the work of organizations and individuals around the world that have impacted the tourism sector. Their achievements have served as an inspiration for competitive and sustainable tourism development and the promotion of the values of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals.

All the winners after the ceremony

The 14th Edition  of the UNWTO Awards was organized in collaboration with the International Tourism Trade Fair in Spain (IFEMA/FITUR) and supported by:

  • The Macao Government Tourism Office
  • The National Secretariat of Tourism of Paraguay-Itaipu Binacional
  • The Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Argentina
  • The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in Colombia
  • The Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador
  • Wonderful Indonesia
  • The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; and
  • National Geographic
Campus of Mangalajodi Ecotourism resort

In the Innovation in Enterprises category Conservation and Livelihoods: Community managed Ecotourism at Mangalajodi,  Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust was shortlisted. Other nominated enterprises in this category were from Kenya, Italy and Philippines. Mangalajodi is one of the oldest village coming under Tangi block of Khurda district in Odisha, 75 km from Bhubaneswar towards Berhampur with a huge marshland along the northern edge of Chilika Lake. The area (about 10 sq.km) is primarily a fresh water zone connected by channels cut through the reed beds with the brakish water of Chilika lagoon. The numerous channels that crisscross through the greenery, harbour thousands of water birds, migratory and resident. Part of Chilika, 1165 sq.kms.brakish water estuarine lagoon of international importance. The wetland hosts more than 3,00,000 of birds in the peak season. October to March is the best time to visit this place. This region has is a significant global waterfowl habitat and is declared as an “Important Bird Area (IBA)”.

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Get rewarded for playing Golf in Amazing Thailand!

Wanna play some golf at some of the most beautiful courses in the world! Head on to Thailand to tee off. And, what more, you are going to get rewarded through some loyalty points. All you need is a Thai Golf Passport. It is often said that arguably Thailand is one of the greatest place to visit and play golf. It is already referred to as Asia’s most popular golfing destination. Golf has been played in Thailand for almost a century now. The game was recored at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club as early as 1905. No wonder that Golf Tourism is at a high in Thailand and it is one of the leading golf tourism destinations in the world. There are number of reasons to visit Thailand and play golf. Thai Golf Passport is newest of them.

Amazing Thailand also has Amazing Golf facilities. Ideally located more than 200 golf courses throughout the country, by the sea, by the mountains, by the lakes, inside the cities even besides the airports. Top quality courses, reasonable green fees, friendly caddies. From the beach resorts in the south such as Phuket to the mountainous surroundings in the north, or the bustling cities of Bangkok and Pattaya, there are golf courses to suit every preference.

Banyan-Golf-Course

To bring value to this offering, SLW, the leading Golf Management company has launched the first ever loyalty program for a country. ‘Thai Golf Passport has been launched in india to offer Indian golfers a seamless golf experience in Thailand. Indian golfers can be a part of this Amazing rewards program whenever they tee off in Amazing Thailand’ said Anil Dev, Managing Director SLW.’ A number of quality service providers like Thai Airways, Cox & Kings, Callaway and a number of Golf Courses, Resorts and hotels have come together to partner this initiative,’ he added.

Phuket golf course, blue canyon golf club, canyon course

The Thai Golf Passport was launched in New Delhi by Isra Stapanaseth Director Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office, Vani Kapoor, the leading Indian Lady Professional Golfer, Gajendar Panwar, Vice President Indian Golf Travel Association, Rohan Prakash, Associate Vice President Cox & Kings and Prashant Singh, General Manager, Callaway Golf India. Also present were a number of Golf Travel professionals from the travel and tourism trade. Already 30 golf courses in Thailand have joined this programme. The dedicated website of the ‘Thai Golf Passport’ would be launched on 1st February. India is first market to launch a golf passport.

Indian golfer Vani Kapoor

“While Thailand is an Amazing destination, India is the leading market for us. Keeping this in mind and ensuring value added services we have launched Thai Golf Passport in association with SLW Golf Management. This will help golfers to enjoy golf in their favourite destination and help us in connecting with the golfing fraternity in India”, said Isra Stapanaseth. “The initiative will also keep the Golfers here updated on new golf venues, special offers and various events”. Vani Kapoor, the leading Indian golf pro said that, “Thailand is my favourite destination and I travel a number of times every year. I love the hospitality, food, facilities and of course Golf. Thailand is truly amazing.”

“Golf has long been the game of corporate and business people who are also avid travellers. Thai Golf Passport creates a membership that shares common values and interests, and at the same time provide an engaging golfing and networking platform for all stake holders-members and sponsors alike. We are excited to partner with this innovative initiative which helps us reaching our customers directly,” said Prashant Singh, General Manager, Callaway Golf India.

Sanitburi course at Koh Samui

“Thai Golf Passport is a great initiative for golf tourists to enjoy seamless service. We believe in providing quality service to our customer and this will also help in validating this claim. We are proud to be associated with Tourism Authority of Thailand and it would be our endeavour work towards successful implementation of the project,” added Rohan Prakash, Associate Vice President,Cox & Kings.

Grand Prix Golf Club

Gajendar Panwar, Vice President Indian Golf Travel Association said that, “Our association welcomes this move which is a program unique to India. While hotels and airlines have loyalty programs this will be a first of its kind where a Country has created such a program. We support all golf tourism initiatives and are sure that this will really encourage golf travel.”

Alpine Golf Course at Bangkok

When it comes to hospitality no country comes closer to perfection than Thailand offering something for everyone of diverse interest, every age and every budget. From pristine sandy beaches to lush jungles, bustling busy cities to traditional villages, Michelin star menus to roadside noodle stalls, historic Buddhist temples to 21st century sky scrapers Thailand is truly amazing! Don’t wait, just add golf to this fun.

 

Christmas is a fairy tale in Taiwan

Christmasland is a “realm of Merry Christmas” in the urban setting of Xinban Special District, a sprawling playground intended for people of all ages, and also an effort to enhance New Taipei City’s global profile. By connecting attractions throughout the neighborhood (The Lin Family Mansion & Garden, 435 Art Zone, Huangshi Market, Fuzhong Shopping District, Nanya Night Market, etc.) to Xinban Special District’s emerging shopping district, Christmasland bolsters tourism in both New Taipei City and Northern Taiwan as it transforms the entire Banqiao area into a spectacular winter getaway destination complete with culinary treats, entertainment and lots of shopping.

Read Also: New year eve celebrations! Got to be Brussels!!

To mark the period between Christmas and Chinese New Year, the most festive time of the year in Taiwan, Christmasland incorporates elaborate venue and event planning efforts to touch visitors’ hearts with a sense of joy. It is a gorgeously illuminated, happiness-evoking enclave that creates a fairy tale-like experience out of the country’s tallest Christmas trees, fun-packed rides, and a series of regular events from county fairs, large concerts, and markets selling handmade goods to carnival parades. Designed with all demographic groups in mind, Christmasland is a true embodiment of the gleeful, festive atmosphere.

Then there are the New Year Eve Celebrations in Taipei that are special. The festivities begin at Taipei 101 building, when the countdown enters the final stage, the building itself lights up floor by floor from the bottom up for the New Year’s countdown, making Taipei 101 the biggest New Year’s Eve countdown clock in the world. After the countdown is over, fireworks are immediately set off, a star-studded group gathers on the spot to accompany a variety of activities and special ceremonies, and a special, exciting, out-of-the-ordinary Taipei New Year’s Eve celebration is on display!

Although taking place in the winter with its low temperatures and frequent bursts of cold air, Taipei New Year’s Eve celebration attracts a huge number of visitors despite the weather. Even if a cold snap hits, there is no drop in the enthusiasm of those welcoming in the New Year. The Taipei city government, that runs the event, has made the concept of turning Taipei city into “New Year City,” the creative axis of the event.

Since the staging of Taiwan’s first-ever grand New Year’s event in 1995, it won an enthusiastic response among young people and had the media competing with each other to report it, and this later spread throughout the entire country with similar celebrations being held everywhere. On the day of the event, the Taipei city government invites popular entertainers and famous pop singers to perform at the celebrations on the square in front of the government offices. At the same time, this glamorous New Year’s Eve celebration puts Taipei squarely on the global stage, winning international applause and becoming one of the most famous international and Taiwanese New Year’s events.

How to do Taiwan!

Taiwan is located in the western Pacific Ocean 160 km (100 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland and is a convenient gateway to Asia for the Indian traveler.

FLIGHTS: A number of airlines such as China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern and Thai Airways fly directly or with a stopover, in to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Kaohsiung International Airport and the Taichung International Airport from the Indian metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Scoot Airlines also connects the cities of Jaipur, Amritsar, Lucknow, Chennai, Trichy, Kochi, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad with a stopover in Singapore to Taipei.
The average flight time between India and Taiwan is of about 6.5 hours; and Taiwan is 2.5 hours ahead of India.

VISA: Indian Passport holders can enjoy Visa exempt entry into Taiwan for 30 days via an online system

The applicant must have at least one of the following valid or expired visas issued by UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries.

  • Valid resident or permanent resident card
  • Valid entry visa (may be electronic visa)
  • Resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan

New year eve celebrations! Got to be Happy Brussels!!

Still planning for your new year eve celebrations! If you are looking for some options abroad, why not Brussels! It is a fantastic place to be on the new year eve. Besides being the capital of Europe, Brussels is also a dream place to hit the dance floor. With a plentiful of bars, nightclubs and party venues, there will be room to dance till dawn for all types of revellers. What more, for all those stepping out to look for new experiences, happy.brussels offers a pass that provides entry to various unmissable parties for New Year 2018. Brussels night life will no longer hold any secrets for them. If you are fond of hip-hopping in true sense, jumping from one party to another, this pass gives you a variety of options. Beauty is that it is not just limited to the parties alone. You can do much more with a happy.brussels pass to make a fantastic start to your new year.

So you can even plan a new year eve celebration and a winter holiday in Brussels. Queen of diversity with its 183 nationalities, Brussels also prides itself on offering a wide range of late night party venues. From tech house to dance, not forgetting hip hop, all musical styles can be found here. Many head for a night out in the capital to see the latest DJ or have a crazy night in one of the string of late night venues that light it up.

Brussels’ nightlife in all its forms

For the New Year, the Happy Brussels pass gives you a unique opportunity to discover all the facets of “made in Brussels” nightlife. The capital puts on its party clothes. From the superb Galerie Horta to the mellow atmosphere of the Sounds Jazz Club, not to miss the unmissable Fuse, the events offered take place in the capital’s most famous venues.

Apart from entrance to about ten New Year’s Eve events, the Happy Brussels pass also includes ways of enriching your stay with rewarding daytime activities. Indeed, Happy Brussels gives you the best tips on bars and unusual places to start off your celebrations; The pass also provides access to the Atomium, the unmissable architectural giant symbolising the capital of Europe. Finally, it includes admission to a show of your choice at the Cinéma Galeries.

Reaching Brussels

Right in the heart of Europe, Brussels has superb air, road and rail connections. More than 60 million Europeans live within 300km of Brussels, less than two hours by high-speed train. For those who fly in, it takes only 20 minutes from the airport to the city centre. And when you have arrived, it’s easy to move around the compact city, by public transport or on foot.

So, what are you waiting for! Come, joint the party!!!

Ten wayward manatees rescued

Members of the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team at Florida, USA traveled to Charleston, S.C. recently, where in collaboration with multiple organisations and volunteers – they helped save 10 wayward manatees. The manatees were spotted in the upper reaches of the Cooper River, near a warm water outflow area. Historically, manatees move south into warmer waters when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees.  Due to rapidly dropping water temperatures in the river, the manatees remained close to the warm water outflow, instead of continuing to travel south. In doing so, they were isolated from adequate food sources and naturally warm waters.  Following close coordination with some members of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff decided that rescues and relocation of the animals by SeaWorld Orlando’s manatee rescue team were warranted.

SeaWorld Assists with Rescue of Ten Manatees Stranded in South Carolina

Manatees are also called as sea cows. They are found in West Africa, Caribbean Sea and the Amazonian area. They are called as cows as they are slow plant eaters, peaceful and similar to cows on land. They often graze on water in tropical seas. Female manatees are called as cows, male are called bulls and their offsprings are called as calfs. But they are more closely related to elephants. Despite their size, they are graceful swimmers in coastal waters and rivers.

(Also Read: Melon Headed Whale Rescued in Florida)

In addition to SeaWorld Orlando’s team, support for the rescue effort included USFWS Ecological Services Office staff from Florida and South Carolina, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) – including staff from St. Petersburg, the Northeast Florida Field Lab in Jacksonville, and the East Central Field Lab in Melbourne along with volunteers and law enforcement, Sea to Shore Alliance, ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, NOAA National Ocean Services – Charleston, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), Clearwater (FL) Marine Aquarium, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Brevard Zoo, Brevard County Parks and Recreation, Florida Wildlife Hospital, and Waterfront Solutions. Sea to Shore Alliance and local businesses played an integral role in monitoring the manatees’ activity and condition in the weeks leading up to the rescue effort.

Florida manatee and calf {Trichchus manatus latirostris} Crystal River, Florida, USA. Image by © Doug Perrine/Nature Picture Library/Corbis

The rescue operation took place over three days.  From November 28-30, 2017, the interagency rescue team captured 10 manatees from the Cooper River including eight males and two females. Once captured, each manatee received an immediate health assessment by a veterinary medical team comprised of veterinarians from SeaWorld, Jacksonville Zoo and UF. Manatees were transported south and accompanied on their journey by veterinary and animal care staff.  Once in Florida, additional health assessments were conducted at the Jacksonville Zoo by vets from the Zoo and the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. FWC staff served as the lead on transports in Florida to the release site in Brevard County, FL. Nine manatees were deemed releasable.  One female was exhibiting mild cold stress and is being cared for by veterinarians and staff at the Jacksonville Zoo with support from SeaWorld and the Lowry Park Zoo. She is Jacksonville Zoo’s first critical care patient at their new facility and is doing well. The Sea to Shore Alliance tagged five of the manatees before release and will monitor these animals as part of their Atlantic Coast manatee study.

One of the rescued Manatees

Jon Peterson, SeaWorld’s rescue manager, helped with coordination of the multi-agency effort.  “It is particularly gratifying to be a part of such a large scale effort, with partners from all over the Southeast lending expertise and manpower,” he explained. “When you can give ten threatened animals another chance at life that is a great week.”

(Also Read: SeaWorld returns two more sea turtles to the ocean)

Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), SeaWorld Orlando is an acute care rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical care to rescued manatees. The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. The Florida manatee was recently reclassified from endangered to threatened but is still at risk from both natural and human causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by floodgates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.  As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), SeaWorld Orlando is an acute care rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical care to rescued manatees.

SeaWorld’s Rescue Efforts

SeaWorld Assists with Rescue of Ten Manatees Stranded in South Carolina

Over the last five decades, SeaWorld has rescued more than 31,000 wild animals in need including those that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned. SeaWorld’s goal for every rescued animal is to rehabilitate and return them to their natural environment as soon as possible. This year alone, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 47 manatees and returned 25 following successful rehabilitation. Guests to SeaWorld Orlando can learn more about the vital rescue work SeaWorld does for wildlife at the park’s behind-the-scenes Rescue Center used for rehabilitating wildlife that has been ill, injured or orphaned – including manatees, sea turtles, birds and other marine animals.

(Also read: Swim with sharks and feed the stingrays)

While a guided tour of the entire facility has been available for years, the park has now opened up one portion of this area for complimentary viewing to all park guests. Visitors are invited to step behind-the-scenes and catch a glimpse of SeaWorld’s working manatee rescue and rehabilitation facility to learn more about the plight of these vulnerable animals in the wild. See firsthand some of the top problems today’s manatee populations are facing and simple actions we can all take to help through digital medical charts, interactive displays, underwater camera viewing and rescue footage straight from the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team.

Water and Fire at the greatest fountain show!

It is indeed one of the most amazing man-made visual spectacles on this planet and certainly the most fantastic fountain show in the world. Its a dancing fountain at Dubai in the Burj Lake right in front of Burj Khalifa- world’s highest building, what forms a stunning backdrop. Spread over 900 feet this fountain shoots water through jets up to 500 feet in air, as high as a 45 storey building. Amazing!

This captivating water, music and light spectacle is one of Dubai’s most favourite tourist attractions. Daily thousands of tourists visit this every day.

Located in the 30-acre Burj Lake Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain. Its length is equivalent to over two football pitches. The fountain has a unique design comprising five circles of varying sizes and two arcs, and features powerful water nozzles that shoot water.

Just imagine the spectacle of 6,600 WET superlights, 25 coloured projectors and 22,000 gallons of airborne water. It is said to be the most advanced incandescent large fountain lights available today. These create a visual spectrum of over 1,000 different water expressions. Total 50 colour projectors provide a full spectrum of colour with a total output of 1.5 million lumens.

Fountain performs to a selection of different melodies ranging from songs from classical to contemporary Arabic and world music.

Burj Lake has Dubai Mall on one side and Burj Khalifa on other side. You have special platforms around the lake to watch this fountain choreography. However it is visible from every point on the lake promenade and from all nearby high-rise buildings.

Another way to enjoy the show is by sailing in a traditional Abra ride on the Burj Lake. The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride is just like having a front row seats to the best show in town.

There are daily evening shows every half hour from 6 pm to 11 pm. There are also daily afternoon shows at 1.00 pm and 1.30 pm while on Fridays afternoon shows are at 1.30 pm and 2.00 pm. Light and music accompanying this choreography is certainly an experience to remember.

Except for the boat ride, watching the dancing fountain is entirely free. Boat rides start at 5.45 pm and continue till 30 minutes before the scheduled close. Ticket price is 65 Dirham per person and tickets for this can be purchased online as well.

The fountain can be enjoyed from heights of Burj Khalifa and it is also fascinating to watch the fountain in backdrop of Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building.

You can also watch a video of this Dancing Fountain on my channel by clicking on the link below-

 

 

 

 

Melon Headed Whale rescued in Florida


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Rescuing any animal is a tough task, tougher is to take care of it and return it to its natural habitat. Few have got the commitment to do that. SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is rehabilitating a rescued melon-headed whale that was found stranded on the west coast of Florida. The 320 pound, 8 and a half foot adult male melon-headed whale was rescued by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) on October 13 and transported to SeaWorld Orlando.

A melon headed whale

Upon arrival, he was placed in a quarantine rehabilitation pool where the Animal Rescue Team and veterinarians provided immediate treatment and care including, fluids and antibiotics.

Over the last three weeks, the Animal Rescue and Veterinary Teams have monitored him round-the-clock tracking his vitals, appetite and swimming activity. Based on those tests and observations the whale is facing a lot of challenges, including a likely case of pneumonia, but the teams are working day and night to give him the best chance for a successful rehabilitation.

Although he is still in critical condition, the Animal Rescue and Veterinary Teams are working toward the ultimate goal of returning him back to the wild. The next step in his rehabilitation is a hearing test conducted by SeaWorld zoological experts and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hearing specialists to ensure that hearing loss was not the cause of the stranding.

While melon-headed whales are found widespread throughout the world’s tropical waters, they are not often seen as they are a pelagic, deep water, species.

You can see the video of rescue here-

SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 31,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than five decades.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organisations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioural training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

P.S. Footage was produced by SeaWorld under the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Response Program.

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