Tag Archives: UNWTO

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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This Earth Day a unique effort from Uniworld for Just A Drop!

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, as a member of The Travel Corporation (TTC) family of brands and an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, is supporting the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, a year-long initiative dedicated to mobilising global awareness and action around the value of tourism to create positive change.

In the spirit of this important initiative, and to observe Earth Day on 22 April, Uniworld will donate US$5 to Just a Drop, an international water aid charity for every booking made with Uniworld so more communities and beneficiaries can receive safe water and improved sanitation.

Just a Drop’s mission is to reduce child mortality by delivering accessible, clean, safe water where it is needed most. The organisation’s projects support communities through the construction of wells, boreholes, pipelines, hand pumps, and latrines and establish health and sanitation programs for some of the poorest and most remote regions in the world.

This year the global UN system, and global community at large, will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas:

(1)        Inclusive and sustainable economic growth

(2)        Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction

(3)        Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change

(4)        Cultural values, diversity and heritage

(5)        Mutual understanding, peace and security.

“2017 is a unique opportunity for us to promote the contribution of tourism to achieving the future we want – and also to determine, together, the exact role we will have tourism play in the sustainable development agenda, to and beyond 2030,” says Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) . “Promotion, however, must be mirrored by action. Central, therefore, to the success of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is providing inspiring examples in leadership of tourism businesses across the globe.”

“Earth Day 2017 is a perfect opportunity for Uniworld to actualize Dr. Rifai’s stirring call to action,” explains Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO, Uniworld. “Our sustainability project partners at Just a Drop personify the belief that collectively we can make a huge difference. The fact that they’ve delivered more than 170 projects in 31 countries, helping an estimated 1.5 million children and their families, is resounding proof that this approach is highly effective. Uniworld takes pride in being able to continue supporting their invaluable efforts with our Earth Day campaign.”

Uniworld operates a fleet of 21 river cruising ships. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection—the world’s most luxurious all-inclusive river cruise line – features luxurious ships with an average capacity of 130 guests, exclusive excursions, gourmet cuisine, and one of the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the river cruise industry. Based in Los Angeles, California, Uniworld offers truly all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, India, and Egypt—a total of 23 rivers in 24 countries worldwide. Uniworld is a member of CLIA and is highly regarded by discerning travelers, media, and cruise industry experts, having most recently been named the #1 River Cruise Line in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016 readers’ survey. Uniworld guests automatically become esteemed members of the River Heritage Club upon completing their first voyage, eligible for a number of member-only savings and onboard benefits. For guests who book select itineraries by April 30, 2017, the river cruise line is currently offering complimentary stateroom upgrades.

Making tourism accessible for all on this Wold Tourism Day

banner_unwto_home_wtd_en_0-jpg-crop_display_0Tourism for all: people with disabilities, senior citizens and families travelling with small children, and sooner or later all citizens will appreciate the advantages of universal accessibility. This is why UNWTO has chosen to celebrate World Tourism Day 2016 on the theme of accessible tourism. Official celebrations are taking place today at Bangkok, Thailand. The World Tourism Day event started with an amazing performance at the Siam Kempinski Hotel. The opening included a touching rendition of blind people performing and singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” 

For the last quarter–century World Tourism Day, held annually on 27 September, has aimed to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic impact. This year’s theme is ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’. Reaching universal accessibility in tourism is a shared responsibility of everybody involved in the tourism value chain, as well as a business opportunity for companies and destinations.

siamniramit_krathong“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet 1 billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.  Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his official message.

Nehantic Trail - Rhododentron Sanctuary Trail entrance sign.
Nehantic Trail – Rhododentron Sanctuary Trail entrance sign.

“All of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer. Therefore, it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) is estimated to live with some form of disability. UNWTO is convinced that accessibility for all to tourist facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourist policy.

man-in-a-wheelchair-cross-001“This year’s theme, ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’, is a challenge for Thailand and the world to recognize the necessity of accessibility in tourism and to accommodate everyone anywhere they may travel to (…) We have to understand the theory of Universal Design (…) As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travelers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to is as safe and seamless as possible,” explained Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand.

foto5488e359c065dDuring the official event, experts on accessibility and tourism are exchanging views and best practices, addressing the need to work in cooperation to advance in the ‘Tourism for All’ agenda. Creating an adequate policy framework for specific business development strategies, the need to increase awareness and capacity building targeting both decision makers and tourism professionals are some of the topics being addressed during the conference.

accessible-tourism-benefits-of-travelThe conference will also address innovative strategies in the development of accessible tourism infrastructure, products and services which add value to destinations and enhance their competitiveness on the global tourism market. A number of best practices will be featured with the aim of emphasizing the value of investing in accessibility.

India ranks top in per-capita tourists spendings

Tourists SpendingIndia is not on top in numbers of foreign tourist arrivals but the average amount of money spent by international travelers in the country, on a per-capita basis, is more than anywhere else. Also, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data, though the country is ranked 41st in terms of inbound tourist arrivals, it is 16th in total tourism receipts. Major tourist destinations like the US, China, the United Kingdom and France see far higher annual foreign tourist arrivals, but their per-capita receipts from inbound foreign travelers is much lower than India. This is mainly because of a large number of business visitors to India and longer duration of their stay.

shoppingData from the tourism ministry and UNWTO show international tourists’ per-capita spend in India as at the end of 2012 stood at over $2,600, while it was $1,900 in the US, $900 in China and $646 in France. The difference in India’s ratings for number of tourist arrivals and total receipts suggests that the country has been able to draw high-spending travelers. In 2013, it managed to earn $18 billion foreign exchange with only 6.8 million foreign tourists. Comparable 2013 figures for other countries are not yet available.

Other key tourist destinations like the US and China are ranked higher on both parameters. While the US was first in total receipts in 2012 ($126.2 billion), it was ranked second in the number of tourists visiting the country. China, which earned $50 billion from tourists in the year and was ranked fourth, stood third in annual foreign tourist arrivals. France, which received the highest number of foreign travellers (83 million in 2012), has been third in tourism receipts for the past three years. India gets a lot of corporate travelers. Especially during a global economic slowdown, companies have had a positive outlook on India. They contribute significantly to the total spend by inbound tourists.

The share of business travelers in inbound tourism has gone up from 15 percent in 2009 to 23 per cent in 2012. Globally, during the year, 52 percent of inbound tourists were for leisure and 14 percent for business. In India, on the other hand, 27 percent came for leisure, while 23 percent travelled for business, according to tourism ministry data.

Street ShoppingBesides, India also gets the advantage of being a longer-leisure destination. The average duration of stay for a foreign tourist in India is one week to a fortnight. Given a wide variety of tourist destinations the country offers, several European and American tourists stretch their stay even beyond a month.  India is not a country that a tourist just thinks of, packs a bag and lands. It is not an impulse spot; one needs to plan much in advance. This is why it is not a weekend destination like many of sub-continent countries.

Over the past decade, India’s rank in total earnings from foreign travellers has risen 20 notches – from 36 in 2000 to 16 in 2012. A depreciation in the value of the rupee has also made India an attractive option for foreign tourists. Besides, in spite of an economic slowdown, the rate of growth in tourist earnings has been higher than the global average. For instance, in 2012 when world tourism receipts grew by 3.2 percent, India’s earnings went up by seven per cent.

The country received the highest numbers tourists from the US, while Chinese nationals were the 12th-largest in terms of number of visitors. With its announcement of extending the visa-on-arrival facility to 180 countries, India is hoping to double the number of tourists visiting the country to 12 million over the next 2-3 years. This is expected to bring the country among the top 10 recipients of tourist earnings.

Maldives- Beauty Unlimited

In the third part of the series on Maldives, here are some beautiful shots of Maldivian sea and islands. This beauty seems to unending.

World Tourism Day Special- Maldives: Ultimate in Luxury

A wine for 12.5K US dollars or a suite for 25K US dollars: its not either for the weak-hearted or the shallow pockets. Maldives does has such tiny islands of ultimate in Luxury, as we had the glimpse of at Rangali islands, managed by Conrad Hilton. As if just reaching here by a sea-plane was not enough, what you sea here, taste here, experience here and enjoy here… will certainly keep you spellbound and ofcourse… without any wish to return to your home!

विश्व पर्यटन दिवस विशेष- मालदीवः जन्नत है यहां

इस साल(2013)  का विश्व पर्यटन दिवस आज मालदीव में मनाया जा रहा है। इस मौके पर मालदीव की अद्भुत यात्रा पर एक लेख प्रस्तुत है, जो मैंने तीन साल पहले लिखा था।


मालदीव के रंगाली द्वीप की खूबसूरती
मालदीव के रंगाली द्वीप की खूबसूरती

हम माले के अहमदी बाजार में राजधानी की सबसे बडी एंटीक व सोवेनियर दुकान में थे। सारे सेल्समैन मालदीव के राष्ट्रपति मोहम्मद नाशीद द्वारा एक दिन पहले कोपेनहेगन में विश्व जलवायु सम्मेलन में दिए गए भाषण को बडे ध्यान से सुन रहे थे। ईमानदारी से कहूं तो मैंने किसी हिंदुस्तानी को राष्ट्रपतियों या प्रधानमंत्री के भाषणों को इतने ध्यान से सुनते नहीं देखा। लेकिन जब इस धरती की एक नायाब रचना के अस्तित्व का ही सवाल हो तो, इतनी गंभीरता लाजिमी ही थी। कई लोगों ने अक्टूबर में मालदीव की कैबिनेट द्वारा पानी के अंदर की गई बैठक को भले ही टोटका समझा हो, लेकिन मालदीव जाकर लगता है कि अगर प्रकृति का कोप इसे हमसे छीन ले तो दुनिया कितनी दरिद्र हो जाएगी। वहां की सुंदरता में कुछ ऐसा ही खास है। उस छोटे से देश में मानो इतनी खूबसूरती समाती नहीं।

बाजार की उस सैर से वापस अपने क्रूज पर जाने के लिए जेट्टी की तरफ लौटते हुए, जब निगाहें बरबस सडक के साथ-साथ चलते समंदर के पानी में गईं तो अहसास हुआ कि यहां के लोग इस खूबसूरती की कीमत किस हद तक समझते हैं। पानी इतना साफ था कि लैंपपोस्ट की रोशनी में नीचे कई मीटर गहराई में तैरती मछलियां अपने सारे रंगों के साथ दिखाई दे रही थीं। यह समंदर का वो हिस्सा था जो शहर से एकदम सटा हुआ था। आप भारत के किसी शहर से सटे हुए समुद्र या नदी के पानी में कुछ सेंटीमीटर भी साफ देख सकें तो खुद को खुशकिस्मत पाएंगे। एमवी एक्वामैरिन पर लौटते हुए माले में बिताए हुए शाम के दो घंटे जेहन में घूम रहे थे। कोरल रीफ (मूंगा चट्टानें) यहां का जीवन हैं। यहां तक की आपको कब्रों पर लगे पत्थरों पर भी मूंगा चट्टानें मिल जाएंगी। राष्ट्रपति नाशीद का भाषण सुनने से कुछ ही देर पहले हम उनके सरकारी आवास के बाहर खडे थे। यकीन नहीं होता था कि हम किसी देश की सर्वोच्च शख्सियत के आवास के आगे थे, दूर-दूर तक कोई सुरक्षाकर्मी नहीं था। मजे से हम उसके बंगले के दरवाजे से अंदर हाथ बढाकर महज पचास मीटर दूर बगीचे व बरामदे के फोटो खींच रहे थे। क्या आप भारत में किसी अदने से नेता के घर के बारे में ऐसा सोच सकते हैं? पता तो यह भी चला कि राष्ट्रपति कभी-कभार पैदल ही सडकें पार करते हुए दो ब्लॉक आगे अपने दफ्तर में पहुंच जाते हैं। मालदीव के बारे में हर बात अभिभूत करने वाली थी। इसीलिए मुझे अगले दिन का बेसब्री से इंतजार था। इल्हाम था कि वह दिन खास होने वाला था।

ऐसा सुकून और कहां
ऐसा सुकून और कहां

सवेरे क्रूज से एक नाव हमें एयरपोर्ट आईलैंड लेकर आई। वहां से हम रनवे का चक्कर काटते हुए पहुंचे ट्रांस मालदीवियन के बेस पर। पिछली शाम जब क्रूज माले के निकट पहुंच रहा था तो हमने ऊपर से गुजर रहे सी प्लेन को तुरंत पहचान लिया। इतनी तस्वीरें जो देखी थी, उसकी। लेकिन तब गुमान न था कि अगले दिन उसमें सवारी का मौका मिलेगा। ट्रांस मालदीवियन के सी प्लेन से हम एक सौ पांच किमी दूर रंगाली द्वीप जाने वाले थे। लगभग हजार मीटर की ऊंचाई तक उडने वाले सी प्लेन से मालदीव के समुद्र में फैले पडे सैकडों रिजॉर्ट व कोरल द्वीपों को देखना अविस्मरणीय था। पानी की यह खूबसूरती कहीं और नहीं मिलेगी। रोमांच व उत्साह से सांसें थाम देने वाली उडान थी वह। लेकिन रंगाली द्वीप पर हिल्टन होटल्स के कोनराड रिजॉर्ट पहुंचकर लगा मानो हम किसी दूसरी दुनिया में पहुंच गए हों। ऐसी दुनिया में, जिसका बाहर की किसी दुनिया से कोई वास्ता नहीं था। वास्ता इस तरह भी नहीं था कि वहां जैसी खूबसूरती या विलासिता बाहर मिलना मुश्किल था।

आसमान से खूबसूरती का नजारा
आसमान से खूबसूरती का नजारा

कोनराड पर सैर पैदल भी हो सकती है या बैटरी चालित गाडी से भी। जेट्टी से मुख्य द्वीप तक जाते हुए पुल के दोनों ओर जलजीवन का नजारा अद्भुत था। अभी हम आसपास की प्रकृति से खुद को सहज भी नहीं कर पाए थे, कि ऐसी जगह पहुंच गए, अकल्पनीय थी। सीढियों से कई मीटर नीचे समुद्र के पानी में उतरते हुए हम शीशे के ऐसे कमरे में पहुंच गए जो पानी के अंदर था। वह कमरा दरअसल एक डाइनिंग रूम था। सब तरफ शीशों के पार हम विलक्षण किस्म की छोटी-बडी मछलियां, कोरल्स, स्नोर्कलिंग व स्कूबा डाइविंग करते हुए इंसान देख सकते थे।

वहां सजी मेजों पर बैठकर खाने की कल्पना ही अपने आप में बेहद रोमांचित कर देने वाली थी। माले से सी प्लेन में इस द्वीप पर आकर इसे देखने और अंडरवाटर लंच करने का किराया ही एक आदमी के लिए 47 हजार रुपये है। कोनराड में उतरने के उस पहले आधे घंटे में जो हम देख चुके थे, उसके सम्मोहन से हम खुद को मुक्त न कर सके और आगे आने वाली सारी चीजें उस मोहपाश को सख्त ही करती गईं। चाहे वो पानी पर बना स्पा हो, वाइन सेलर हो, बेहद लजीज कोरल मछली हो, समुद्री फलों का अद्भुत रस हो या 25 हजार डॉलर प्रति रात्रि किराये वाला सनसेट विला हो, जिसके मास्टर बेडरूम का बेड रिमोट से चारों तरफ घूमता है और आप सामने खुले समुद्र के हर हिस्से को बिस्तर पर लेटे-लेटे निहार सकते हैं- सूर्योदय से लेकर सूर्यास्त तक। वहां से लौटने का मन न था। हम लोग अपने पासपोर्ट पानी में बहा देने को तैयार थे। लेकिन जानते थे, यह मुमकिन नहीं था। भारी मन से इसी उम्मीद के साथ लौट पडे कि फिर कभी, किसी मोड पर तकदीर यहां जरूर ले आएगी।

क्या ऐशो-आराम है!
क्या ऐशो-आराम है!