Bhubaneswar, Jan 20:
The United National World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has selected Chilika, the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia, as one of the eight global sites for the development of sustainable tourism as well as livelihood of the local community that will help maintain its status as a destination for the migratory birds.
The UN body, under its ‘Destination Flyways’ project, will help the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) to formulate strategies for protection of migratory birds through creation of innovative tourism and livelihood options with financial assistance from Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany.
Chilika was strongly recommended by the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (SCBD), the Convention of Migratory Species (UNEPCMS), the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, the World Heritage and Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programmes of UNESCO, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wetlands International, Birdlife International and UNWTO.
Expressing happiness over the issue, chief executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Ajit Kumr Patnaik said the initiative would boost the image of the lagoon, promote responsible tourism and help it get connected to the global network and branding.
A two-member mission team led by Virginia Trapa (UNWTO) and Dr Taej Mundkur (Wetlands International) during their visit had met top officials of Union Tourism ministry and the state Tourism department last week.
The team later visited Chilika and discussed with the CDA chief executive on the management of the lagoon.
Before its visit to Nalabana bird sanctuary, the team interacted with reformed bird pachers and members of the boatmen’s association at Barkul and Rambha.
The team expressed satisfaction over the conservation measures undertaken by CDA as well as the initiatives for the promotion of community-based ecotourism in and around the lagoon.