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Corbett norms driving away foreigners? (20th Nov. 2015): Stringent norms of the Corbett Tiger Reserve management are keeping the foreigner tourists away from the park, say tourist operators and hoteliers of Ramnagar. In seven-month tourist season (November 15 till June 15), only 4% foreign tourists visited the national park even this miniscule number has dwindled in the last one year.

According to the new figure provided by Corbett Tiger Reserve Management, in 2013-14, 2,02,528 tourists visited the reserve of which 7,734 were foreigners. In the next year, 2014-15, the number of tourists was 2,45,873 of which 6,192 were foreigners. Within one season, the number of foreign tourists fell by 1,542. So, why foreign tourists are are shying away from visiting Corbett Tiger Reserve, country’s first national park.

Out of the 70 rooms available in the eight rest houses inside the reserve, only five of them are offered to the foreign tourists for night stay. As per hoteliers the foreigners generally come in groups when they visit. When they do not find accommodation in Corbett they leave for other tiger reserves like Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh.

Other tour operators said that the foreign tourists give enough business to hoteliers and people like them when they come to Corbett but due to the lodging problem they are skipping this region. Recently, the tour operators and hoteliers at Ramnagar met Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Tourism Minister Dinesh Dhane and demanded relaxation in the norms of Corbett Management.

As per a tourist operator, “The biggest problem in our state is that the forest department is in the charge of tourism. As a result, tourism is suffering. Corbett management decides something and it has to be followed.” Surendra Kumar, media spokesperson for chief minister said, “I will bring up this matter before the chief minister as we are trying to boost eco tourism in the state and will ensure tourist-friendly policies.”

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