Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It’s roaring biz for Gir courtesy Big B.

AHMEDABAD: The roar of lions showcased by superstar Amitabh Bachchan in the Gujarat Tourism campaign seems to be yielding fruitful results for the Gir Sanctuary .
The sanctuary has witnessed such a good response from the tourists that it is completely booked for the fortnight till November 15 — a record in the last 15 years for this only abode of the Asiatic lion.
Ever since the sanctuary re-opened on October 15, on an average, 70 to 80 permits were issued daily. The upper limit for issuing permits was 90 permits per day.
However till November 11, there is no room in Sinh Sadan and even the advance permits issued to casual visitors are over booked.
Officials said that of the 90 permits issued daily, about 50 per cent were issued in advance. And now the first available advance permit is of November 15. According to officials, not just the Sinh Sadan, which is the official guest house of the forest department, but even hotel owners were having a great time. Of these 45 advance permits, over 25 were pocketed by the hotel owners.
In Sinh Sadan, majority of rooms barring the VIP room have been booked in advance. “The permits are issued for those who pre-plan their trips, but we don’t have any advance permits. On an average, roughly 70 permits have been issued ever since the sanctuary reopened ,” Sandeep Kumar, deputy conservator of forest, headquarter, told TOI.
Kumar said that even Devaliya, the interpretation zone, has also seen a rise in the number of tourists. “It has been noticed that the number of schools coming here for picnics has seen a sharp rise. After visiting Devaliya , schools head for Somnath,” he said. Kumar said the figures of the first 15 days of last year cannot be compared to this year, for Diwali festival last year was soon after the sanctuary opened, and hence number of tourists was bigger


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