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Goa Tourism woos China, Europe amid Russian dip

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Goa: Anxious about a potential drop in Russian tourists, a mainstay for Goa’s travel and tourism industry, the authorities here are desperately wooing other European markets – and even China – in a bid to make up the numbers.

Among the countries that are in Goa Tourism’s radar are Poland, Holland, Latvia and Kazakhstan for the short-term and the Middle East and Southeast Asian regions for the long term, as the state aims to secure a limited open skies status to facilitate flights from the two regions.

While around 1,000 Latvian tourists are scheduled to visit Goa during the tourist season from October to March, at a do held last month in Kazakhstan’s largest city of Almaty, Indian ambassador Harsh Kumar Jain, invoked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pitch Goa as a tourism destination to around 80 Kazakh travel and tour operators.

“The leaders of both countries confirmed the high importance of tourism during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Kazakhstan. The heads of our countries have paid special attention to ways and means to strengthen cooperation in this important sector,” Jain also said.

Indian consular offices located in Almaty and the capital Astana process nearly 15,000 visas annually.

Russians top the list of foreign tourist arrivals to Goa’s beaches followed by tourists from Britain, but industry stakeholders have already predicted a dip in the number of Russians this season due to a slowdown in the Russian economy and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

While 985 out of the 1,128 charter flights which landed in Goa during the 2013-14 tourist season were from Russia, in 2014-15 only 813 charters arrived here, of which only 537 were from Russia and carried only 104,890 tourists on board.

“There will be a dip in tourists from Russia, especially because of the economic crisis, tourism operators going bankrupt and the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Ukraine,” said Ekaterina Belyakova, who heads the Russia Information Centre in Goa.

In response, tourism officials here are busy wooing the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as new markets like the Netherlands and Poland.

“We have received a tremendous response from the Polish and Dutch markets. We expect a good number of tourists from these two countries in the coming season,” Goa Tourism Director Ameya Abhyankar told IANS.

In May, Goa hosted travel and tourism industry representatives from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur region to pitch for tourists from the country’s northwest.

Goa is also aspiring to be a transit hub between the Middle East and the Southeast Asian region by lobbying with the union civil aviation ministry to approve a limited open skies policy that allows unlimited air traffic between two nations or clusters of countries.

“We are requesting the union civil aviation ministry to approve the limited open skies policy for the Southeast Asian and the Middle East region. It will help us get traffic from the two regions and promote tourism,” Abhyankar said.

The state attracts nearly three million tourists every year, out of whom half a million are foreigners.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS)

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350 Chinese Cities Get Better Air Quality

In the first three quarters of this year, 7 out of 20 cities with the worst air quality were in northern Shanxi province

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Officials told CNN that the Chinese military did not intercept the US aircraft during their mission.
South China Sea, Pixabay

More than half of China’s cities saw air quality improve year-on-year in September, the Chinese Environment Ministry has said.

The average density of PM 2.5 stood at 25 micrograms per cubic meter in September in 338 cities, down 16.7 per cent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

These cities enjoyed good air quality on 90.8 per cent of the days last month, up 2.6 per cent, Xinhua news agency said.

Air Quality
Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

The world’s most populous nation has over 600 cities and is grappling with chronic pollution which kills about one million people annually.

China is the world’s biggest coal producer and alone burns half of it, leading to severe pollution. The country is also the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

However, the government has cracked down heavily on the polluting industries, shutting many of them. In July, the government released a three-year action plan to tackle the problem.

It also punishes top officials for not doing enough to rein in pollution.

Beijing is no longer the world’s most polluted city.

Air quality

Air quality
Buildings are seen on a hazy day in Xiangyang, Hubei province, China. VOA.

In the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the share of days with good air quality in September stood at 79.2 per cent, a year-on-year increase of 27.8 percentage points, while the PM 2.5 density of the region dropped by 33.3 per cent on year to 36 micrograms per cubic meter, the Ministry was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

In the first three quarters of this year, 7 out of 20 cities with the worst air quality were in northern Shanxi province, China’s coal-producing hub.

Also Read: Sundar Pichai Clears Google’s China Centric Plans

According to the action plan released in July, by 2020, emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide should have dropped by more than 15 per cent over the 2015 levels, while cities that fail to meet the requirement of PM 2.5 density should see a decline of more than 18 per cent from 2015 levels. (IANS)