Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tiger Tourism: The ADD ON Racket - Online Booking

Ever since the Government or rather the NTCA capped entry into the tiger reserves in India its impact on the tourism industry has been disastrous. The unplanned expansion of accommodations in the tiger reserve precedes the implementation of the cap. Almost all tiger reserves overflow with number of lodges and many of them are on the verge of closure.  

With the rise in tourism post nineties a mad rush to set up lodges in the outer confines took place. The cap came much later whence a PIL was filed in the SC calling for the ban on tiger tourism. The ban was suppose to be in totality hence perpetually placing the big cat out of the eye of the public. 

The ban if implemented would have had a disastrous impact on our tourism industry. Already under pressure, the tourism industry cannot bear the impact of such bans on prime indicator species and the destinations. This is not all, after flourishing for decades the ban would have thrown a large number of populace out of work. The local industry would have been the sufferer as well - directly or indirectly. 

Thankfully wiser counsel has prevailed and we are able to see the tiger in daylight. Nevertheless as enhanced conservation measure a cap was placed on the entry of vehicles in the park.     

The cap meant limited demand for accommodation and it also meant limited permits that would have assured for arrival of tourists. Without permits no tourist would book accommodation...that is obvious. 

Destination which do not have alternative recreational places or opportunities are the worst hit. At these places only way to run and profit from the lodges is to ensure tiger safari in the park for the guests. An unlimited alternative lies in the buffer but the buffer zones are habituated and do not  yield any fruitful sightings, hence the tourist do wish to partake in a buffer safari.

The tiger safari bookings in Madhya Pradesh are carried out at the MP Online Site as well as at the current windows in the reserves. Both are subject to availability albeit there is no hue and cry about the availability and management of the tickets at the current windows the online booking system is like a storm in the eye.  

It is at the online booking portal where most of the anomaly exists. Taking advantage of add on system where you can add tourists forty eight hours before the entry many lodges are into proxy bookings in name of their employees. This assures that whence tourists make a booking the add on procedure is utilized and the tourists are added to safari. Another charge that is being promulgated is that a hefty sum is charged from the tourists. This practice is being put in place by lodges that can afford to bear the cancellation charges. Obviously these could be lodges with a hefty tariff.   

There was simmering contempt regarding this practice since a long time but no one paid heed. Now since a complaint has been filed with the authorities attention has been drawn towards the lacunae. 

How the authorities fool proof this system of ADD On or strike it out completely has to be seen. A lot of booking for coming months have already been cornered and will be used to Add on future bookings.  
Pensive Tiger By Teerath Singh 

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