Odisha: Italian hostage crisis sparks mass tourist cancellations in state

, March 21, 2012

Bhubaneswar: Panic gripped Odisha’s fledgling tourism industry following mass cancellations of visit to the state in the backdrop of the Italian hostage crisis. Tour operators said they received a spate of communications from their counterparts in other states and abroad cancelling, in particular, package tours, most of which were scheduled for the last week of March and next month. “I had at least four package tours planned in the coming weeks. All have been cancelled. A major tour operator from Italy promoting a regular series of tours to Odisha has cancelled five bookings till October. The operator is now thinking of diverting the tourists to other states in the country,” said Benjamin, a city-based tour operator. “Many visitors have expressed their concern on the situation and are thinking of cancelling their program to Odisha,” he pointed out. Yugabrat Kar, a tour operator in Puri, echoed similar woes.

Maoists kidnapped four people on March 14 from a jungle on Kandhamal-Ganjam border, including two Italians, Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo, both of whom remain untraceable. Continue reading

The state worries–“Orissa: Imperialist tourism for ‘tribal entertainment’ in War Zones of Repression and Resistance” (Part One)

Orissa puts curbs on tribal tourism

Sandeep Mishra, TNN Feb 26, 2012

BHUBANESWAR: With increasing concern about voyeuristic foreigners embarking on tribal safaris, the Orissa government on Saturday imposed strict rules for trips to areas inhabited by vulnerable tribal groups, such as Bondas and Dongaria Kondhs and even book those found contravening official guidelines. Tourists permitted into the area would not be allowed to stay night, stand close to tribals or enter their homes.

The government had, following a row over tourists’ visits to interior tribal zones in December, ordered a probe by IAS officer Usha Padhee.

The new guidelines say no foreign tourist/researcher can visit areas inhabited by these groups without the collector’s permission, which would be marked to the local police station. The cops have to ensure the conditions in the permission letter are strictly followed. “In case of any violation criminal cases should be lodged against the tourist/sponsor/tour operator under appropriate sections of law,” the chief minister’s office said in a media release. No night stay, videos or still pictures would be allowed.

Orissa has the second highest tribal population in the country and is home to 62 tribal communities, including 13 categorized as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), numbering around 90,000. The PVTGs, namely, Bonda, Didayi, Lanjia Saura, Juang, Kutia Kondh, Chuktia Bhunjia, Saura, Paudi Bhuyan, Lodha, Dongria Kondh, Hill Khadia, Mankirdia and Bihor, spread over 12 districts, fascinate many because of their interesting rituals and customs. A similar incident had occurred in the Andamans. Continue reading