Indian President's tour to Andaman sours holidayers' dream

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Port Plair, Dec 27 (UNI) Most of the tourism destinations of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were closed under short notice by the administration, in view of President Pratibha Patil visit today spoiling the holiday plans of hundreds of tourists.

With the vacation date clashing with those of the President's official tour, which begins today ''even tourists with valid tickets had been sent back from the harbour. Where will they go now?'' asked G Bhasker, General Secretary of the Hotel and Restaurant Owner Asociation.

They had cancelled the government resort bookings in Havelock islands, and barred tourists to board a ship to the place, which is also the most popular tourist destination of all the islands.

Mr Bhasker alleged that even international touirists from finland, poland and other countries found themselves in a difficuilt situation due to the sudden move of the Andaman and Nicobar administration in sending all the tourists back from havelock island to Port Blair on the night of December 25 and the following morning by special boats in the light of the president's scheduled visit to the islands on December 27.

Tour operators and hotel owners are facing the brunt of the tourists, who complained of inconveniences due to this unexpected blanket ban on most of the tourist spots.

Cellular jail, considered as a pilgrimage for freedom struggle, had also been declared closed.

''Our honeymoon is completely spoiled now. We had planned to spend a couple of days at Havelock beach but now are forced to adjust somehow in other less favoured places of these islands,'' Abhishek Khagria, a tourist from Nagaland told UNI today.

Unlike others, Abhishek and his wife were lucky to get a hotel in Port Blair, after the cancellation of their tour to Havelock island.

Agitated with the move of the local administration, the Hotel and Restaurant Owner Association are planning to take up the matter with the administration.

''We have decided to file a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) against the administration for causing inconvenience to hundreds of tourists. If this continues during each and every VVIP's visit, then no tourists will visit these islands any more,'' Mr Bhasker told UNI.

Meanwhile, none of the senior officials of the tourism department were available for comments.


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