Sanjib Kumar Roy
Our correspondent in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
When dream tour turns sour
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are considered one of the best upcoming holiday destinations in India, with the number of tourists increasing every year. People visiting the Andamans usually go back with wonderful memories and lots of selfies, but what about those whose dream trip turns sour because of accidents? There have been many such accidents, caused by bad weather, a wrong decision, or crocodiles, in which tourists have lost their lives or had a narrow escape. The safety of tourists is now given top priority in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In 2014, an overcrowded ferry, Aqua marine, with nearly 50 passengers, capsized near Port Blair, killing at least 21 people.
Water sports are one of the most popular aspects of tourism on the islands. Most people visiting the Andamans do not miss activities like scuba diving, snorkelling, sea walk etc. In most cases such activities are fun, but for many old and physically unfit people, it often becomes hard to predict how much is too much. Several cases of death have been reported in the past decade, with tourists having died during water sports activities, and even while bathing in the sea. In 99 per cent of the cases, such deaths are the result of old age, heart problems or drowning. Tourists are now advised to avoid adventurous water sports if they have health issues.
Although crocodile attacks are common in the Andaman Sea, tourists are mostly safe from the saltwater crocodiles as the authorities are serious about their safety and have put up warning signs for tourists in every beach. In April 2010, a crocodile killed an American tourist, Lauren Failla, on the picturesque Neil Cove area near Radhanagar beach in Havelock island.
An Andaman vacation can also turn sour for foreign tourists if their visa documents are incomplete. In September this year, a Chinese woman, Shuai Wang, was arrested by the immigration unit of Andaman & Nicobar Police for violating visa norms at Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair city.