PORT BLAIR: Now that cyclone Vardah did its thing in the Andamans and turned its attention to Chennai, tourists are flocking back to Neil and Havelock Islands.
While the Andaman Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) profusely thanked a whole battery of agencies -- the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Administration, the defence forces, the deputy commissioner of South Andaman, the Director of Tourism -- for taking care of stranded visitors, it had a bone to pick with the media for its vocabulary in reporting the situation in the atoll.
The ACCI said that in some press releases and media agencies the use of the word 'rescue' created a panic situation.
“The tourists were absolutely safe and sound and well looked after,” said Girish Arora, president of ACCI.
Although a large number of tourists are now going to Havelock and Neil Islands, some bookings are being cancelled because of the impact of Vardah on Chennai and because of the fear triggered by national news channels, he said.
There never was a crisis, he added.
The ACCI thanked hoteliers, resort owners, travel agents and tour operators at Havelock, Neil and Port Blair who, he said, went out of their way to assist tourists.
However, despite ACCI’s claims, there have been reports about harassment of tourists at Havelock Island during the time cyclone Vardah threatened the islands.
“It was sad to see some hotel and shop owners exploiting tourists. We have reports that some hotels doubled their rate for rooms and some shops increased the prices of drinking water to Rs 50 per bottle,” said Sanjay Meshak, convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).