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Similipal sees steep fall in foreign tourist inflow

                                                             The Political and Business Daily, New Delhi, 14th June, 2013

Similipal National Park has recorded a steep increase in inflow of tourists, both foreign and domestic, bringing cheer to the forest authorities and wildlife lovers.

The park registered 24,657 tourists including 43 foreigners in 2012-13 while their number was 15,367 including 29 from the overseas during 2011-12. The park was closed to the tourists during 2009-10 and 2010-11 following a series of Maoist attacks.

Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF) and Field Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) Anup Nayak said there had been a significant rise in collection of revenue from the tourists. “While nearly Rs 12 lakh was collected from the visitors in 2011-12, the total revenue collected during 2012-13 was Rs 20,06,642, which included around Rs 26,000 from elephant rides,” he said.

Buoyed by the flow of tourists, the park authorities have for the first time decided to extend the entry of visitors till June 30 this year.

Earlier, the biosphere was being closed from June 15 to October last in the wake of monsoon and mating of wild animals.

This time, the park will be closed from July 1 to October 31. Describing reasons of the increase in tourist traffic, Nayak said several measures had been taken for the comfortable stay of visitors in the park. While guest houses were renovated, night halts allowed at Jamuani and Gudgudia core areas. Besides, arrangements have been made for the tourists for elephant ride and adventurous trekking, which attract them the most.

Flourishing in 2750 sq km area, the STR has 1194.75 sq km of core area and 1555.25 sq km buffer area.

This apart, the forest officials have allowed direct registration through website and engaged eco-guides to accompany the visitors inside the park. They hope that the flow of tourists will increase further due to better arrangements than previous years.