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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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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.