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April 3, 2012

Foreign tourist ban in Maoists-affected districts in Orissa

     Rayagada: Local authorities in Orissa have extended a ban on foreign tourists from visiting Maoist-affected areas across the state following the abduction of two Italian nationals. This was also one of the conditions put forward by the Maoists. Following the incident, authorities enforced the ban in the state’s Rayagada District on March 24. Since then, the ban has been imposed across the state. “In our district we have imposed some certain restrictions on the movement of foreign nationals in our PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group) areas, which were earlier known as Primitive Tribal Groups Area. These restrictions have been imposed on the view of the recent incidents of abductions of foreign nationals which occurred in these areas. So that is the reason why we have imposed these restrictions,” said Nitin Bhanudas Jawle, the Collector for Rayagada District. “We will be reassessing our security situation and we will be taking call on it either way, to allow foreign tourists in particular areas. But then the district administration wants to inform that this is purely a temporary measure and it is taken into consideration the security of the foreign tourists and the foreign nationals in this area. We have taken this step,” he added. The ban is set to take a toll on the earnings of travel agents who specialise in organising tours of Rayagada district’s ancient temples. “This has put a lot of inconvenience suddenly because a lot of groups which were scheduled for the season upto March or April will have to be cancelled. Adding to that is that a lot of foreign tourist operators raised their concern about this issue and they also started cancelling the groups till October. So it is an area of great concern for the industry and we would like to take it forward with the government,” said Benjamin Simon, President of the Travel Agents' Association of Orissa. Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo was taken hostage along with tour guide Paolo Bosusco while swimming in a river in the state’s remote Ganjam district on March 14. While Colangelo was released 11 days later to a group of reporters from Indian news network NDTV, Bosusco remains in the custody of the rebels.
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