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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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A mission drives a unique collection

‘It’s the newspaper number 3191,’ Shashanka said gleefully as I handed over to him the latest issue of my tabloid travel magazine- Awara Musafir. He had requested me to bring a copy for him before I left Delhi for Bhubaneswar. This is one of the ways he uses to enlarge his collection, by asking friends and well-wishers to get a copy of a newspaper for him from wherever in the world they go.

Shashanka Sekhar Dash with his collection

A journalist, writer and social worker Shashanka Sekhar Dash is fondly known as ‘Paper Boy’ for his this very unusual hobby. What started just as a passing thought in 2001 slowly developed into a passionate hobby and now he has taken this as a journalist mission. At that time Shashanka was working with a small newspaper. He noticed that newspaper was printed in Delhi but there was no copy available in the Odisha market. He though it was better to preserve a copy. Than it crossed his mind that there might be more such newspapers whose copies are not available in the market, he started collecting them as well. Slowly he kept widening his collection.

Hence in last 17 years till now, he collected more than three thousand newspapers and tabloids representing 59 languages from 69 countries in the world. This accumulation has already earned him a place in Limca Book of Records and India book of records in 2012 and now he is in process of finding  place in Guinness Book of World Records, which he is quite sure of.

Shashanka belongs to Arangabad village in Bari block of Jajpur district in Odisha. Now he is working as COO of the Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust which is a community livelihood project at Mangalajodi Wetlands in Khurda district of Odisha. Shashanka also purchases the newspapers whenever he finds one which he does not have in his collection. He also writes directly to newspaper offices for a souvenir copy.

Shashanka Sekhar Dash with his collection

Obviously housing such a huge and ever increasing collection and preserving it is no mean task. It requires space also. So what Shashanka does is that he puts a sticky note on every newspaper with a brief sketch. He then carefully wraps them in a poly bag and then stores them carefully in shelfs and almirahs. They will then be brought out whenever he has to show them for an inspection or display them for an exhibition, which he already has had a few. Newspaper collection is not a usual hobby, but Shashanka has come across some other couple of persons with this passion, although there collection is very small still in comparison to Shashanka’s.

With such a long journey already completed, Shashanka doesn’t want to go it as a waste. He now plans to convert a portion of his family home in his village as the museum and research centre, where budding journalists and students can come and have a glimpse of newspaper journey around the world. May be in couple of years from now, he will fulfil this dream. With lot of digitisation going on, life of newspapers is getting smaller. With many newspapers closing their editions, this collection will have an eternal value. Shashanka already has many newspapers in his collection which have closed down. Now they are of enormous value.

Shashanka has also written six books in Odia which include poems, short stories and also a book on journalistic essays. In the year 1999 he also published Odisha’s first children’s newspaper.

Shashanka lives with this passion. In past week since we met, he has received six newspapers from New Zealand through a friend who just returned from the country and three other in Chinese via another source. His count now stands 3203.

Do you know of any such other collection! Please share in comments section below.

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A unique effort at Mangalajodi gets nominated for UNWTO award


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Fisherman in action at Mangalajodi

Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust of Manglajodi in Khurda district in Odisha has been nominated for United Nations World Tourism Award to be given early next year. It is only nominee from India in this year’s UNWTO awards. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announces the winners of the UNWTO Ulysses Prize and the UNWTO Ethics Award, as well as 14 finalists for the upcoming 14th Edition of the UNWTO Awards for Innovation in Tourism. The Awards Ceremony will be held next January 2018 in Madrid on the occasion of the International Tourism Fair, FITUR.

Campus of Mangalajodi Ecotourism resort

The UNWTO Awards recognize inspirational individuals and projects for their innovative achievement as well as their invaluable dedication to developing and advocating sustainable tourism in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 14th Edition of the UNWTO Awards will take place in January 2018, co-hosted by FITUR, the International Tourism Fair in Spain/IFEMA in Madrid, Spain. The Awards Ceremony will be preceded by the UNWTO Awards Forum where finalists will present their respective projects. Fourteen innovative projects among 128 applicants from 55 countries have been selected as finalists of the 14th UNWTO Awards for Innovation in Tourism.

Boating at Mangalajodi

In the Innovation in Enterprises category Conservation and Livelihoods: Community managed Ecotourism at Mangalajodi,  Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust has been shortlisted. Other nominated enterprises in this category are 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)”.

Cottage at Mangalajodi campus

Manglajodi Ecotourism is community owned and managed wildlife conservation venture. AT the heart is the democratic notion that the fragile ecosystems like this belong to everyone. Protection and conservation of Manglajodi wetland is important to us. Mangalajodi epitomizes a sustainable lifestyle that is at brink of extinction. Mangalajodi village consists mainly of fishermen communities, who go fishing every evening to Chilika Lake and come back the next morning with fresh catch.

Boating at Mangalajodi wetland

Local communities still dwell on the indigenous methods of catching fish wherein country made fishing nets are made out of bamboo which do not pose a threat to aquatic life. Fish is an important part of their diet and can be cooked in many forms i.e. cooked; smoked or even sun dried – commonly called “Sukhua”. Dried fish is the staple food and eaten with fermented rice – another peculiarity of Odia Cuisine called “Pokhal Bhat.” Women are involved in collection of fuel wood which is actually dried leaves i.e. they don’t cut a tree for fuel wood – rather utilizes dried leaves.


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