NATIONAL

Colourful start to tourism fete

PORT BLAIR, DEC. 22. The `Island Tourism Festival', the annual cultural bonanza in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, got off to a colourful start this evening with the organisation of cultural programmes depicting the country, particularly the island's rich heritage.

The event is part of the strategy to promote tourism in the islands which is endowed with an unique eco-system and

natural beauty and also to present to the people a glimpse of the developmental activities on the island since Independence.

The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Arvind Dave, lighted the traditional lamp amidst the release of colourful balloons and traditional blowing of the conches, at the Exhibition Grounds, marking the opening of the festival. He also released a souvenir.

He and the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar, Mr. N.N. Jha, referred to the enormous tourist potential on the islands. They hoped that the number of tourist arrivals would increase when work on expansion of the runway, to handle bigger aircraft, is completed. The annual programme would help the people of the islands and tourists to know one another and their culture.

The Chief Secretary, Dr. R. Padmanabhan, highlighted the steps taken by the territorial administration to boost tourism.

A dance presentation of ``Vande Mataram'', by the Song and Drama Division, Kolkata, provided a fitting start to the celebrations.