Thursday 27 September 2012

Next Hearing On Tourism Ban On October 3

The tourism sector now has to wait until the 3rd of October to see whether or not the wildlife parks will open to the public. After hearing arguments on Thursday, by the MoEF, the Honourable Bench advised the States and all other petitioners to submit any and all objections to the new guidelines within 3 days. The Bench further stated that the counsels of all the petitioners will be given 10 minutes each on 3rd October to make an oral presentation of their objections. 

The Bench made it absolutely clear that it would only pass judgment once it was completely satisfied that the proposed guidelines were adequate and after the State Governments were notified to follow them. The Bench further indicated that it was inclined to modifying the ban on tourism in core areas as undue prejudice and harm was being inflicted on various parties as a result of their ban. 

With these directions from the Bench it is clear that both judges on the panel are positively inclined to open the parks but it would require them to hear out each and every petitioner. They also indicated that they may open the parks with the current proposed guidelines or with certain modifications to the guidelines. 

The nod that they have given the tourism sector is the understanding that a long drawn out court case hurts the livelihood of those involved and that they are determined to deal with this matter swiftly and without prejudice. 
Mr. Parvez Dewan, IAS, will take over from Rajen Habib (R H) Khwaja as Secretary - Tourism, Government of India. A 1977-batch IAS of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) cadre, Dewan will assume office from first week of October 2012 in the Ministry of Tourism. Parvez Dewan has been Secretary in Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs before this. In his more than three decades of service, he has handled various res
ponsibilities, including in the Department of Tourism in both home cadre, J&K, as well as in the Centre cadre. He was Secretary - Tourism, J&K from 1992 to 1994 and Commissioner-cum-Secretary of J&K between 1998 and 2001. He was also the Chairman and Managing Director, India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), a public sector under the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India between 2006 and 2009. He was instrumental in preparing the groundwork for Commonwealth Games as Chairman and Managing Director of ITDC.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

IMEX America Index of Optimism Shows Industry Glass Remains “Half Full” With 76% of Respondents Feeling Optimistic

Results from the latest IMEX America Index of Optimism suggest that North American buyers and suppliers remain firmly optimistic about future business prospects despite having to face up to continued economic challenges.

Just over 312 buyers and suppliers responded to the survey which was undertaken by the IMEX Group in July. (Total respondents: 312. Buyers - 73%; Suppliers - 27%).

When asked if they are currently feeling “more or less optimistic about the meetings industry than a year ago,” 76% agreed they are more optimistic. This compares to a slighter larger majority of 79% in February 2012 (albeit with fewer answering this specific question – Feb 2012: 146 compared to July 2012: 195).  Last year just 66% (155 respondents) felt more optimistic than 12 months before. Further survey data in the final quarter are likely to show whether this is a sound upward trend or a short-term reaction.

84% Report Uptick in New Business Sources in Last Six Months

A strong majority of 84% of respondents also revealed they had attracted new sources of business in the last six months, suggesting that signs of growth are starting to show through in a more reliable way, especially when compared to 12 months ago when just 73% felt that business was picking up. 11% said they hadn’t increased business levels and the remaining 5% declared “don’t know.”  Asked to compare their current situation with the previous six month period 46% felt it was “about the same” but a healthy 42% declared “it’s definitely getting better.”

Almost half of those surveyed – 46.5% - have also seen an increase in the number of attendees taking part in their events, although for 28% there was no discernible rise.  In July last year 50% felt that numbers were growing, while in February 2012 it was 53%. However, given the relatively small sample size, this slight downturn is not thought to represent a significant trend but a reflection of normal business cycles.

In turn, 35% felt there was good evidence to show that spending per participant at their events had grown, although a majority of 43% have yet to see this important measure start to rise. A further 22% were “not sure.”

Political influences

Finally, when questioned regarding the impact the US presidential election campaign might have on their businesses in the next six months, mixed opinions were generated. While some felt that the pre-election period had not, and would not, impact their business, others felt that it had slowed down decision-making within the sector. Obama’s possible re-election also produced varied viewpoints. Comments ranged from “if Obama gets elected it will get better”, to another respondent who said his re-election would cause “the economy to slow down and business to retreat”.  Other comments included “the logjam needs to break” while one respondent reflected the views of several others with: “We are looking for new, effective leadership and I’m not sure that either candidate applies.”

IMEX America kicks off at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas with Smart Monday – Powered by MPI – on Oct.08, followed by a three day trade show set to welcome in excess of 2000 hosted buyers, thousands more buyer attendees and around 2000 exhibiting companies from all over the world.

Registration is free and online

About IMEX America
IMEX America is America’s worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events and is already the largest trade show for the industry in the USA. The second edition will take place at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas, (which is connected to the show's Headquarters Hotel, The Venetian®|The Palazzo®), Oct 9 – 11, 2012.
The show's strategic partner and premier educational provider is MPI, who power “Smart Monday” - Oct. 08 – a full day of education on the day prior to the tradeshow. Smart Monday also includes a range of high level education delivered by other partners and associations; including Association Focus – a conference within a conference for association meeting planners – delivered by ASAE, ICCA and PCMA.
IMEX also has an exclusive partnership with the US Travel Association and is endorsed by DMAI and Site, has an Industry Partnership with PCMA and is an ICCA Business Partner. Other supporting associations include: ACTE Global, ADME, AIPC, AMCI, ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership, Association Forum of Chicagoland, CIC, CSAE, ECM, FICP, GMIC, IACC, IAEE, IAPCO, ISES, JMIC, PATA, SKAL, Spin. A list of industry and media partners can be found here.
Follow us on Twitter Facebook LinkedIn and (German) XING Use #imex12 to follow both shows.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Last night’s Winners provide inspiration for the future of the Indian Wildlife Tourism industry

 TOFTigers, India’s leading advocate for responsible wildlife tourism held its 2nd Wildlife Tourism Awards last night at the Ambassador hotel in New Delhi.

“What we have always said is that India does have many inspiration people and businesses involved in the nature tourism sector, changing lives, saving forest and wildlife and supporting people, often overlooked in the heated debate of the present tourism ban,” says the TOFT awards founder, Julian Matthews. “If all nature tourism was like this, India’s wildlife tourism would not be in its present impasse.”

Winners include superb naturalists, NGO’s funded by tourism, now treating 90,000 patients on the borders of a tiger reserve, park guides that spend their spare time training and educating, private sanctuaries that have restored fabulous waterfalls and stitched back two parks on its boundaries, beautiful tiger reserves with blooming tiger populations and lodges that now have resident wildlife and even tigers in their restored landscapes.

This is the future of nature tourism.

It is already here and we all need to ensure such inspirational examples are replicated across India in the future.

Full details below.

Contact Julian Matthews on 09717528977 or for further details or photos

Winner:   Rajesh Bhatt - Jim's Jungle Lodge- Corbett, Uttarakhand
At 40 Rajesh Bhatt is an extraordinary guide and conservationist who is almost entirely self-taught and is presently taking a Masters course in environment and ecology from Manipal University.  He has great botanical knowledge, is a good birder and his passion for conservation sees him teaching and training forest guards and panchayat heads. He runs ecotourism courses across India. He set up his own NGO that help train fellow guides and school kids called ‘Rainbow’. 

Winner:    &Beyond India   
& Beyond is run by naturalists and experts who had their roots in wildlife and guiding with a real sensitivity to Eco Tourism.  They have had the benefit of a large organisation to promote them, but have used this to help put India on the map as a wildlife destination, across the globe.

Media contact:   website  


Winner:     Prakratik Society- Ranthambore
The Prakratik Society was founded by Goverdhan Singh Rathore . For the past 20 years the society has been working with local communities living around the Ranthambhore National Park providing health care with two hospitals serving over 90,000 patients a year, a top school with 250 pupils  dairy development and alternate energy all aimed to encourage sustainable co-existence of people with the wilderness environment on their doorstep. All of it supported and often funded by tourism. 

Winner:  Wildernest  - Goa
Wildernest have created a large 450 acre private sanctuary, a vital Tiger corridor between Mahdei Wildlife in Goa and the Bhimgad Wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, and now they are trying to get their Swapnagandha Valley designated as part of these Tiger Reserves. Originally saved from mining interests, these areas have become tiger corridors and Wildernest presence has helped stitch back this area and curbed poaching threat over a long period of time.

Winner:   Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve - Rajasthan
Ranthambhore is now an excellent wildlife experience, and has a blooming tiger population.    Visitor  numbers are close to 150,000 but the tourism is managed by opening up more areas with fewer vehicles, greater sensitivity, better cooperation between tourism, guides and park management and good use of NGO’s to support park management and communities. Thanks to converting 10 cattle herders to guides, a whole new part of the park has seen a new generation of tigers arrive after 25 years.


Joint Winner:      Yadvendra Singh Rajawat  -  Ranthambhore  
Yadvendra has worked in Ranthambhore for 20 years and been the President of the Guide Association for ten of these years. He is dedicated to Ranthambhore, and a preferred guide to a number of well-known operators.  He is a regular volunteer on Census operations and works closely with the management team to root out bad practices.  He runs many training programmes for new guides and takes part in anti-poaching patrols and fire service when necessary.


Joint Winner:  Vipal Jain - Ranthambhore
Vipal has worked in park since 1993 and has been involved with a number of travel companies and their NGO’s that run projects in and around the area the Tiger Awareness charity.

Joint Winner: Mahua Kothi - Bandhavgarh  
Run by &Beyond (Tajsafaris) since 2006, it’s 26 acres have a small and aesthetically well placed building footprint that borders an important corridor between the Tala and the Khitauli range of the park, and allows the remainder free range for wildlife. It is run by an Ex WII wildlife biologist Neel Gogate and his team.  The lodge involves the local community in its work, provided world class training to all staff, and also supports many projects including helping reintroduce the wild Gaur back into Bandhavgarh.

Joint Winner: Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge Tadoba      
Started in 1996 this lodge is an really good example of how tourism can transform life, turning barren land and dried up stream beds back to life to create a haven for wildlife. It’s based on 30 acres of land, of which the building footprint is kept to a small area with a further 9 restored to wildlife. Its effect has been the transformation of the park area too, with decreasing in poaching, restoration of rivers and trees and bountiful wildlife has returned and new and stable livelihoods for bordering communities.

Contact:   website

Wednesday 5 September 2012

TOFTIGERS are delighted to announce the shortlist for the TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards 2012

TOFTIGERS are delighted to announce the shortlist for the TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards 2012

The response to the TOFT Awards has been fantastic with a large number of nominations for 8 separate award categories. It has been a difficult job compiling the shortlist below from such excellent companies, NGO’s, individuals and organisations.      

Dholes Den                                  Bandipur                             
Chitvan Jungle Lodge                   Kanha
Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge             Tadoba
Singinawa Jungle Lodge              Kanha
Reni Pani Jungle Lodge               Satpura
The Oberoi Vanyavilas                Rajasthan                              
Orange County Resort                 Nagarhole
Forsyth’s Lodge                           Satpura
Mahua Kothi                                Bandhavgarh

Pugdundee Safaris and Ken River Lodge      Madhya Pradesh
The Great Himalayan Bird Count (ARCH)     Utterakhand
Wildernest                                                            Goa

Shukra Kumal                                    Ken River Lodge   Pench
Ratna Singh                                        Taj Safaris    Madhya Pradesh
David Raju                                           Forsyth Lodge   Satpura
Rajesh Bhatt                                      Jim’s Jungle Lodge   Corbett

Yadvendra Singh                              Ranthambhore
Vipal Jain                                             Ranthambhore
Guru Prasad Yadav                          Kanha
Ajay Marskole                                   Pench

Prakratik Society                              Ranthambhore
Shakti Himalayas                              Utterakhand, Sikkim and Ladakh

Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve     Rajasthan
Pench Tiger Reserve                       Madhya Pradesh

Travel Inn
Royal Expeditions
Eastbound Tours
&Beyond India

Sawadee                                             Netherlands
Cox and Kings UK                             UK
Natural World Safaris                     UK

Winners and Runners Up will be announced at the Awards Ceremony which will be held on 14 September at Vivanta by Taj - Ambassador Hotel, Subramania Bharti Marg. New Delhi

TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards 2012 To Go Ahead As Planned

TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards 2012 To Go Ahead As Planned

TOFT has announced that the 2nd TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards scheduled for 14th September, 2012 are still going ahead, in spite of the Government ban on Tourism.  TOFT has had over 80 nominations for 8 separate award categories and the shortlist of each award will be published shortly. This year’s awards are being held at the India Habitat Centre on Lodhi Road.

In 2010 TOFT launched the TOFT Wildlife Tourism Awards to honour and acknowledge the contribution of the women and men who work tirelessly towards the preservation of our forests and their inhabitants. These people not only attempt to preserve our natural heritage but also strive to strike a balance between the natural world and the local population around our parks. They educate and employ local youth thus converting those that once saw the forests as a meal ticket to people who now care for and protect it.

The tourism ban has obviously hit hard all those involved with the industry; however, their contribution has to be acknowledged. There is a ban, there are people out of work and their future is murky at best. Keeping all this is mind TOFT awards 2012 is striving to give these men and women what is their due. The future may be uncertain but the past is not and all that has been achieved is written in stone. On the 14th of September we will stand up and salute the many ordinary citizens of our country who have dared to dream, who have dared to make a difference.