14 August 2008

India: camels damaging tourism industry

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A report written by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) for the tourism department has voiced fears that camels are damaging the dunes in the Indian Thar desert, reports the Times of India.

Camel riding, which has long been a tourist attraction to the Thar Desert in India, has been found to be eroding the iconic sand dunes, which is in turn causing sandstorms during the summer.  The report has provided the tourism board with sustainability approaches to tourism, such as enforcing tour operators to keep to regulated tracks and implementing sand dune conservation techniques that are already in use around the world.

Camel treks have become increasingly popular in India, and operators have expanded their services to provide activities for those on a backpacking budget to those who can afford luxury banquets.

The tourism market in India has seen massive growth in the past few years, and the country is joining China to become one of the world’s biggest importers of tourism.  However, their domestic tourism is also growing.  According to the Annual Report of the Ministry of Tourism 2007-08, domestic tourism rose by nearly 20 per cent during 2006, from 380 million to 462 million sightseers.

The number of international visitors to India has also jumper 11 per cent in the first half of this year to reach 2,660,337 visitors, reports ExpressIndia.com.  International visitors to India must have an Indian visa to enter the country.  An Indian tourist visa is usually valid for up to six months, and the visa holder is not allowed to work under the visa conditions.  For short-stay visits, tourists can also apply for a 15 day transit visa.

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Indian visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.

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