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Knowledge Update

Goa to drive heritage tourism with vintage vehicles festival

Panaji, Sep 13 (IANS) Goa hopes to ride the heritage tourism wave with the help of vintage vehicles, state Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said on Tuesday, while announcing the state's first vintage bike and car festival organised by the Tourism Ministry.

Over 50 such vintage bikes and cars will be driven through the main streets of Panaji as part of the one-day festival on October 1, Parulekar said. 

"We are planning this event which is going to be very exciting and enlightening as vintage cars and bikes from vintage car museums, those in use and those maintained for exhibitions and special occasions will all be participating in it," Parulekar said, adding that the event would be included in the Tourism Ministry's annual events calendar. 

"We hope to make it a regular attraction for in-bound travellers," Parulekar said.

Vintage two-wheelers and four wheelers dating from 1921 to 1970 will be on display during the event. Cars that one would get a glimpse of at the festival include the Citroen, Austin, Morris, Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes, Volkswagen and bikes like Norton, BSA and BMW.

"Vintage automobiles are another form of heritage and in Goa there are vintage car fans who are passionate about this. Through this festival we hope to kindle that hobby and motivate local Goans and others to preserve vintage vehicles so that the present generation and the future will have something to appreciate and admire," Goa Tourism Development Corporation Chairperson Nilesh Cabral said.

"This can draw tourists from domestic and international markets who have an appetite for heritage and they will surely have one more facet to engage in when in Goa," he added.

The state already has two privately run vintage car museums and a large number of vintage bike and car owners and collectors.

East-West confluence, blue sea and belly dances turn Istanbul into travellers' delight

​Istanbul, Sep 13 (IANS) The scintillating blue water of the Bosphorus strait and the high boundary walls of the erstwhile Byzantine civilisation strewn with royal structures in every nook and corner of Istanbul offer travellers everything they would ask for on a holiday.

Thanks to Bollywood, Indians have of late become acquainted with various parts of Istanbul and Turkey at large.

The film "Guru" (2007), apart from picturising the sizzling bellydance in the song 'Mayya Mayya', had also shown Istanbul's Nuruosmaniye Mosque. Also, several scenes of "Baby" (2015), a film based on international terrorism, were shot in the Turkish capital.

Belly dancing is very popular in entire Turkey. One can visit a night club to get a glimpse of this spectacular show. Belly dancers are even hired for private parties and weddings.

The scenic beauty of the place and various historical sites spanning several civilisations have always attracted tourists from across the globe.

Istanbul, earlier known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is the most populous (around 15 million) city in Turkey with the majority of the population believing in Islam. Uniquely located in two continents -- Europe and Asia -- the city is home to seven hills. Thus, while travelling across the city, one experiences a lot of undulating landscapes.

Emerging from Istanbul's Kemal Ataturk Airport and approaching the city, one can see a lot of construction work under way in this centuries-old city. But as one heads deeper into the city the high walls of Byzantine civilisation stand tall to welcome visitors.

In some parts of the city, the old houses may make Indians feel they are in Goa.

A cruise down the Bosphorus strait along the azure coloured Marmara Sea, looking at the landscape and buildings in Asia on one side and Europe on the other, makes people feel they are straddling two worlds. And when one is tired of taking selfies and clicking pictures of the sea and the beautiful palaces alongside, a host of eateries are there along the strait waiting to welcome guests. On alighting from the cruise, one can adequately satisfy gastronomical desires.

One must-visit is the Blue Mosque or the Sultan Ahmed Mosque with its five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It was build between 1609 and 1616 during the Ottoman period.

Adjacent to Blue Mosque is the Topkapi Palace. This was one of the major residencies of the Ottoman sultans for around 400 years. The sprawling palace, which overlooks the Marmara Sea, has interesting museums of armoury and clocks. The royal structures and the greenery around cast a sort of spell on every visitor.

For food connoisseurs, Istanbul is a must-visit destination. A visit to a fine Ottoman cuisine restaurant, Asitane, will surprisingly reveal an extensive vegetarian menu.

It serves dishes like Ottoman humus, which is crushed chickpeas, lightly pureed with currants and cinnamon powder; Lor cheese blend, a mix of Lor cheese with scallions, parsley, green peppers and tomatoes, seasoned with rosemary and paprika among many other preparations.

If you want to loosen your purse strings, the places to go are the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar, as the name suggests, offers a variety of exotic spices and herbs along with other Turkish delights, while the Grand Bazaar has everything from hand-painted porcelain items and textiles to gold jewellery.

The warmth of Turkish hospitality is visibly in the hawkers' attempt to lure Indians by singing film legend Raj Kapoor's famous "Awara hoon...". Even film star Aamir Khan is quite popular among the masses. Many recalled watching his hit movie "3 Idiots".

But tourism has taken a hit after the attempted military coup in mid-July that claimed at least 90 lives in Ankara and left around 1,150 injured.

"We get a lot of Indian tourists, but they are mostly from the US or Europe. In the last few years we have seen lots of tourists coming from China as well. But, of course, after the coup attempt, the flow of tourists has slowed," Ozlem, a tourist guide told said.

The Turkish government and Turkish Airlines are going all out to spread the word that the country is safe and tourists can visit without fear.

The best time to visit is April-May and September-October.

Chinese rock art added to World Heritage List

​Istanbul, July 15 (IANS) China's Zuojiang Huashan rock-art cultural landscape was on Friday added to the World Heritage List at the 40th session of World Heritage Committee held in Istanbul.

The World Heritage Committee cited the site's uniqueness in combining the landscape and rock art with the vivid and deep social life of the Luoyue people, who lived along the Zuojiang river, Xinhua news agency reported.

The landscape was formed 200 million years ago, according to a report presented at the meeting.

The images on the rocks depicting drums and related elements are symbolic records directly associated with the bronze drum culture once widespread in the region, the report said.

The rock art landscape is the first of its kind for China's heritage, and raises to 49 the number of the Chinese properties on the World Heritage List.

During the evaluation of the site, the Turkish representative drew the attention to the natural risks that have been threatening the outstanding universal value of Huashan rock art.

The representative urged the committee to create a risk cover strategy.

At its meeting until Sunday, the World Heritage Committee will review the nominations of 26 other sites to the prestigious World Heritage List.

Among them are nine natural, 13 cultural and four mixed ones submitted from across the world.​

Tourists from India, China help strengthen Lanka's economy

Colombo, July 1 (IANS) An increase in tourists mainly from China and India will help strengthen Sri Lanka's frail economy as tourism is poised to become the largest foreign exchange earner for the country, an official said on Friday.

The number of tourists from China and India increased in the recent years and due to the prevailing crisis in Europe, Asia has become an ideal destination, Xinhua news agency reported.

"India and China are one of our main markets and we will conduct more promotional programmes to attract tourists from these two countries in the future. Currently, the average money spent by a tourist per day is valued at $165, which is good," an official said.

While tourism was currently the third foreign exchange earner, it would soon lead as a higher number of tourists were selecting Sri Lanka as an ideal tourism destination, the official added.

An estimated 1.8 million tourists arrived in Sri Lanka in 2015, contributing to $2.98 billion of earnings to government revenues. 

The government said it hoped to attract at least three million tourists by the end of 2016, and it has set a target of four million by 2020.​

Haryana declares tourism as industry

Chandigarh, June 28 (IANS) To support growth of tourism sector in the state, the Haryana government on Tuesday declared tourism as an industry for land use purpose.

The decision to this effect was taken in-principle in a meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar here on Tuesday.

The move has been made to attract big investment in tourism projects in Haryana.

"The components that have been classified as land use under industry include all tourism projects and activities with the exception of activities like hotels, tourist resorts, eat streets or outdoor dining areas or promenades or food courts or restaurants and commercial components within recreational or commercial activities," a Haryana government spokesman said here.

"These provisions would be applicable to mega projects only involving investment of Rs 100 crore or above or employing more than 500 people. These would be applicable with prospective effect to all new as well as expansion projects involving an investment of Rs 50 crore," he added.

Haryana was the pioneer state in highway tourism in the 1970s and 1980s with government-run and private outlets along highways running successfully. However, in the absence of further impetus, the state has lagged behind on the tourism front despite having a rich historical background and being the land of the Mahabharata battle.

Taj one of 50 most beautiful places in Asia

​Hanoi, June 28 (IANS) The Taj Mahal in India is among the 50 most beautiful places in Asia, according to Conde Nast Traveler (CNT) magazine.

The 17th-century Taj, built entirely in marble by Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz, is located in Agra, about 200 km south of New Delhi. It is India's most visited tourist spot. 

Xinhua news agency quoted CNT as saying that among the other 50 most breathtaking sites in Asia were Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall of China and Lhasa in Tibet.​

Anusha Dandekar is Thailand tourism's brand ambassador

Mumbai, June 25 (IANS) Attempting an image makeover, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has appointed Indo-Australian actress-singer and former MTV VJ Anusha Dandekar as brand ambassador to lure more women tourists and focus on 'girly getaways' there, an official said here on Saturday.

Dandekar has been selected for her love for Thailand and for symbolising the exact segment the country wants to target, said TAT Mumbai Director Soraya Homchuen.

"Women travelers already represent 30 per cent of arrivals from India, compared to a negligible proportion of our market mix and mostly visiting families on holidays earlier. We want to scale this up to more than double by 2022," Homchuen said.

TAT will showcase Thailand as a choice for women travelers to escape together for short breaks, weekends, bachelorettes, kitty parties and girly holidays, she added.

Excited by the new assignment, Dandekar said Thailand remains her favourite destination and though she has visited it over 50 times, it never gets old for her.

Homchuen said a Thomas Cook survey this year revealed 70 per cent of women prefer to travel with friends compared to family and love the local culture, cuisine, shopping, spa and wellness, and move without a tour manager.

"The women travelers prefer safe, easy-to-navigate destinations and Thailand fits all these requirements the best," she pointed out.

Referring to various global studies showing that nearly 80 per cent of all holiday decisions are taken by women and between 2011-2020, the women travelers' segment would grow exponentially, she said targeting women "makes sense".

Easily accessible by a four-hour flight (Mumbai-Bangkok), tourism accounts for overall 20 per cent of Thailand's GDP with 29 million tourists from all over the world visiting the country in 2015, with a target of 100 million by 2032.​

China sets up first dark sky reserve

Beijing, June 23 (IANS) China launched its first "dark sky reserve" for astronomical observation in the Tibetan prefecture of Ngari, bordering Nepal and India, officials said on Thursday.

The reserve covers an area of 2,500 and aims to limit light pollution by stepping up protection of dark-sky resources for education and tourism development, the China Daily reported.

It was jointly launched by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and the regional government of Tibet.

Wang Wenyong, head of the legal affairs department with the foundation, said in a news briefing that the launch of the preserve is only the first step in protecting the area from light pollution.

The reserve will also try to seek accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association, a non-profit organisation based in the US that is devoted to preserving and protecting the night time environment and dark skies globally.

Wang Xiaohua, head of the Chinese branch of the International Dark-Sky Association and a leader of the Ngari reserve programme, said such areas were important for promoting astronomy.

Ngari is among the best sites for astronomical observation on earth, due to its high altitude and large number of cloudless days throughout the year.

However, the recent inflow of people from other areas has given rise to increasing urbanisation, and thus the associated risk of more light pollution.

"If we do not take action now to preserve the area, we risk losing one of the best astronomical sites on earth," said Wang.

The foundation has also signed an agreement with authorities in Tibet's Nagchu prefecture to establish a night sky park, which will feature limited lighting facilities and a special area for astronomical observation.​

Shanghai Disney China's top future draw

​Beijing, June 21 (IANS) The Shanghai Disney Resort, which officially opened last Thursday, is expected to surpass the Palace Museum in Beijing as the top spot for visitors in China.

According to a report by online travel agency Ctrip, the resort is expected to receive at least 15 million visitors a year, more than 40,000 a day, China Daily reported.

Last year, the Palace Museum saw a total of 15 million tourists.

With each visitor expected to spend an average of 2,219 yuan ($340) on a trip to Shanghai Disney, revenue would reach 33 billion yuan a year, the report said.

It also found that tourists from Shanghai are likely to make up 40 per cent of visitors.

Chi Huiguang, a Beijing resident who went to the Disney Resort on a high-speed train, said she has been to Disneyland in Los Angeles and the one in Shanghai was equally good -- especially the smiling staff -- despite the long lines and high prices for tickets and food.

Ctrip said about four out of 10 current visitors are couples and 30 per cent are parents accompanying their kids. But as the summer vacation arrives, more parents are expected to visit the resort with their children, the agency said.

It also forecast that a peak in visitors would appear during the 10 days after the official opening of the resort and in early July. So trying to avoid the peak would be better, the agency suggested.

The resort is expected to receive at least 7.3 million visitors within the year, according to the agency.​

Jharkhand to develop defunct mines as tourist spots

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) Jharkhand's tourism department said on Thursday it is working to develop the closed and abandoned mines in the state into active tourist destinations.

"Mining tourism is to be developed following best practices from other parts of the world," said a statement from the department, citing Director (tourism) Prasad Krishna Waghmare.

"The state government intends to develop closed mines and transform the abandoned mines as a tourist destination."

The move comes after the department studied mining tourism in Australia, Chile, Canada, Norway and other countries.

"This could be a different experience for the visitors and tourists who visit the state. The government is already in talks with several mine operators for the same," Waghmare said. 

He said his department has also been working on temple tourism as well as biodiversity tourism as part of a new policy. 

There is going to be a development of the medieval terracotta temples of 'Maluti' as a tourist hotspot.

Maluti temples are a group of 78 terracotta temples built between the 17th and 19th centuries in the Maluti village of Jharkhand's Dumka district.

According to officials, Jharkhand has seen a rising graph of visitors from outside the state, from 23,991 tourists in the year 2000 when the state was formed to 33,179,530 (including 1,67,855 foreigners) in 2015. 

Jharkhand currently holds ninth rank in the country in terms of visitors, and the state government is committed to take the state to the top of the country's tourist table, Waghmare said.​