Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Cold is gold for tourism industry
New Delhi : Micro light flying in Mysore, heli-skiing in Auli, scuba diving in Netrani Island, dune bashing in Jaisalmer, zip lining at Neemrana Fort, spelunking in Meghalaya, bunjee jumping in Rishikesh... All this and more! The harsh winter is no more an impediment to a great holiday.
 
Tourism industry comes alive in winters, offering a wide range of adventure activities for those who do not shy away from experimenting.
 
Film editor Sandeep Singh finds snow-capped landscape and cold winds exhilarating. For this travel junkie, winter is best suited to pack bags and set off to a new destination.
 
“I love travelling during the winter. I take off to the mountains. The biting cold seems to open up all my senses and makes them sharper,” Singh, an avid traveller, told IANS.
 
“Be it para-gliding, trekking or bunjee jumping, I do it all. My wife and friends are game for it. Winter certainly is the best time for such adventure."
 
Winter travellers are by no means rare species any more.
 
More Indians are finding winter travel exciting. That is perhaps the reason why men and women, with children in tow, make a beeline for the Himalayan spots for a glimpse of the first snowfall, or just to brave the chill.
 
The travel industry is exploiting the season with attractive packages.
 
“A winter break has become almost as mandatory for Indians as vacationing in the summer. In fact, Indians have started exploring not only domestic but also international destinations during the shorter winter break,” Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, told IANS.
 
The popular travel portal claimed that its bookings were 132 percent higher than the previous year in the winter season.
 
Added Ranjeet Oak, Chief Business Officer-Holidays, MakeMyTrip.com, India’s leading online travel company: “Winter tourism as a concept has picked up in India. 
 
“With the growing popularity of adventure tourism in India, winter snow sports have become a hot tourist attraction. Gulmarg (Kashmir) is considered one of the best skiing destinations in the world.”
 
Yatra.com offers special packages like “Alluring Gangtok” (starting from Rs.10,650) to “Manali Super Saver” (starting from Rs.5,999) and “Hilly Escapades in Himachal” (starting from Rs.10,900) to woo travellers.
 
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) acknowledges that winter is the best season for the tourism industry's growth.
 
Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat told IANS that winters were ideally the best season across India.
 
As per Assocham estimates, over 15 lakh domestic and foreign travellers would have visited tourist attractions across India in the winter (December-February).
 
Most demand has been for Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
 
Those going abroad prefer Dubai, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Singapore and other affordable destinations.
 
Hari Nair, founder and CEO of Holiday IQ, told IANS that Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore were among the popular international destinations for Indians in winter.
 
Indians on an average spent Rs.82,000 in 2014. This rose to Rs.100,000 in 2015, said Nair, adding that average trip length of an international destination has gone up by 14 days.
 
Adventure travel is the biggest attraction among couples. 
 
Nair said 52 percent of adventure travel business goes to couple-travellers. Families comprise 21 percent and only nine percent are single tourists.
 
He said the top 10 winter activities included trekking, wildlife safaris, paragliding, skiing, rock climbing, jet skiing, river rafting and surfing.
 
So get ready and strap your boots!
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Indian economic recovery likely to slow: Nomura
New Delhi :  India's economic growth momentum is likely to slow down in the face of weak external conditions and sluggish investment demand, according to the Japanese financial services firm Nomura.
 
Nomura's proprietary indices for India, together with the high frequency data, indicate some slowdown in the growth momentum towards end-2015 and a high likelihood of further monetary policy easing, it said in a research note.
 
There is a "downside risk" to its baseline forecast of 7.8 percent GDP growth in 2016, it said, adding that a reading still above 100 on the Nomura Composite Leading Index "suggests a mid-cycle consolidation, rather than the start of a downturn" in India.
 
"The economic recovery, which began in the fourth quarter of 2014, is headed into a consolidation zone into the second quarter of 2016," Nomura said.
 
While improving urban consumption demand and a robust transportation sector are supporting growth, weak external conditions and sluggish investment demand are weighing on the pace of the recovery, it said.
 
The report also said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to deliver a final 25 basis points rate cut in April, utilising the room afforded by lower commodity prices.
 
"Beyond that, we expect the RBI to stay on hold until end-2016. We will monitor our growth and policy indicators on a monthly basis for early signs of any further deterioration in growth outlook or possible room for further easing," it said.
 
Earlier this week, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan left the central bank's short-term repo rate at which it lends to commerceial banks, unchanged at 6.75 percent, citing inflation risks and growth concerns, and saying further easing of monetary policy would depend on the government's forthcoming budget proposals.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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26/11 attacks: Headley deposes before Mumbai court
Mumbai : Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Coleman Headley, who is now an approver in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case, started his deposition before a Special TADA Court via videoconferencing from a US jail, here at daybreak on Monday.
 
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam is leading the prosecution case while well-known criminal lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani is representing Headley before Special TADA Court Judge G.A. Sanap at the five-hour proceedings.
 
Flanked by three persons -- his attorney John, a US attorney Sarah and an unidenfied person Bob -- Headley was administered the oath at 7.30 a.m. and Nikam started firing the questions at him.
 
Right at the start, he revealed that he was born on June 30, 1960 in the US and shifted to Pakistan later where his name was Daood Sayeed Gilani.
 
Headley, 54, provided details of his passport and his seven-eight trips to Mumbai and one to New Delhi between 2006-2008 before the 26/11 attacks, including seven via Pakistan, one via UAE, and another trip to Mumbai in July 2009, after the terror attacks were executed.
 
Within a couple of hours, Nikam had posed around five dozen questions where Headley also revealed that most of the information on his visa application was false so that he would not blow his cover.
 
Admitting he was a LeT operative, Headley name one Sajid Mir as his main contact in the terror group.
 
"This is the first time that a terrorist is deposing and tendering evidence live in a foreign country. He will divulge the largers aspects of the 26/11 terror conspiracy, the people behind it and related aspects," SPP Nikam said on the eve of the trial.
 
Headley's ongoing evidence could help the prosecution nail the alleged co-conspirators in the attacks Zakiur Rehman Lakshi, the terrorists' handlers, the role and involvement of other state and non-state actors, the role of another arrested LeT activist Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, currently in a Mumbai jail.
 
At the previous hearing on December 10 last year, a special judge had pardoned Headley and made him an approver in the case subject to certain conditions.
 
Headley, a man with American-Pakistani origins, was asked by Judge Sanap to disclose all information pertaining to the 26/11 case which he had earlier shared with the US courts.
 
This could shed light on the 26/11 conspiracy and the role of various terror groups, and other crucial details of the terror strike at multiple locations which left 166 dead on November 26-28, 2008.
 
Headley had already confessed to his role in the offences in the US for which he is seving a 35-year sentence.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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