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Floods forgotten as tourists throng to Corbett (Oct)

Mail Today, New Delhi, 16th October, 2013
By Raju Gusain, Dehradun
The flood disaster has had little effect on the in-flow of tourists to Uttarakhand's Jim Corbett National Park. 
At a time when famous pilgrimage hubs such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are struggling to get visitors, the national park's Bijrani zone that was thrown open for tourists on Tuesday is witnessing a high flow of visitors. 
All other zones of the park will officially open on November 15. Tourists visit the Bijrani zone to see elephants and tigers in the wild.
On Tuesday, around 300 wildlife lovers undertook the safari. Only 60 jeeps are allowed to conduct tours in two shifts a day. 
"The response is good. All safari tickets were sold out on Tuesday. The monsoon disaster had no affect on tourism here. Only the roads will be a little damp due to heavy rainfall," Park warden Satish Chandra Upadhya told Mail Today. 
The coming four days, according to the park sources, will see the same amount of tourists' inflow. The warm response has come as a welcome relief for the tourism industry which can hope to do good business in the coming months. 
The Bijrani zone is limited to day trips. The Corbett, which is spread across 521 sq km in Nainital and Pauri districts, is home to 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The endangered Bengal tiger is the major draw of the park.
"The Bijrani zone is opening after a long break. The Corbett's close proximity to Delhi makes it a hot destination and the recent disaster will have no impact on the wildlife tourism here," Bacchi Bisht, a nature guide at the park, said. 
The livelihood of hundreds of families in Ramnagar - where the park headquarters is located - and its adjoining areas are highly depended on tourists. 
"People are anxiously watching the trend of tourists' inflow to Bijrani. The tourism industry is down in Uttarakhand after the flood disaster, but the amount of visitors on the opening day proves that the tourism in Corbett will remain normal this year too," Ganesh Rawat, a Ramnagar resident, said. 
Meanwhile, the pilgrimage to the floodhit Kedernath has so far received a poor response with the shrine registering only 389 visitors in 11 days. The temple was reopened for tourists on October 5.