The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 23 , 2011
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Tremors hit holiday

Many a honeymoon plan in Calcutta has gone haywire because of a tragedy 11,200km away, in Christchurch.

A sunny summer and a delicious salad of adventure sports and seclusion has made Kiwiland a hot honeymoon destination and travel operators are counting their losses from Tuesday’s quake.

Most of them have already received calls to scrap plans or rework the itinerary.

“A security cordon has been put in place…. People are asked to avoid all non-essential travel to Christchurch,” said a statement from Tourism New Zealand. The airport “is closed for assessment of damage to the terminal building and runway”.

Around 30,000 Indians visit New Zealand every year. Of them about 40 per cent are honeymooners.

“Preliminary reports suggest scores of Indians who are scheduled to visit Christchurch in two-three days are changing their itineraries,” Kiran Nambiar of the New Zealand tourism board told Metro.

However, he could not confirm if people from Calcutta were among those stuck. Travel operators in Calcutta said they were still checking for stranded tourists with their Kiwi counterparts.

“We handle over 3,500 New Zealand-bound Calcutta tourists every year. But it is difficult to tell immediately how many are there now,” said Anil Punjabi of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India.

The quake has killed at least 65 people and many are feared trapped.

A day after unwrapping his honeymoon surprise, Sanjiv Mishra had to break the bad news to his fiancée. “Christchurch was the hub of his plans,” said Pooja Malhotra.

Gariahat residents Adrit and Shweta Sanyal have struck off Christchurch but retained New Zealand. “Thank God it didn’t happen in the middle of our trip,” said Adrit. They are flying out on Monday.

New Zealand offers a cheaper alternative to Europe. Plus, the excitement of hot-air ballooning, jet-boat riding or bungee-jumping. An Indian driving licence is valid in New Zealand, which offers the possibility of zooming around with a hired car.

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