A foreign participant prepares to take off his hot air balloon during the 1st Araku Balloon Festival, in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday
Visakhapatnam: Inclement weather played spoilsport for the Araku Balloon Festival-2017 on Tuesday, the first day of the three-day event. The turnout was quite below expectations, although the event expected to draw a good number of participants, providing them a chance to fly. The event is being held under the auspices of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism department in a bid to promote Araku as a tourist hub.
The representatives from 16 countries, India, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the US have reached Bosipeta village in Araku mandal by 6 am. However, except the officers of Andhra Pradesh Tourism department, none of the visitors were present except a few locals of nearby villages.
Poor publicity is also attributed to the low turnout. It was learnt that 6,200 members have registered online and of them the organisers selected the participants through lucky draw. Even as the organizers stated that 200-300 persons would experience flying in balloon flight per day, only 40 to 50 visitors got a chance to travel through the air 5,000 feet above the sea level from 7 am to 8.30 am. A few tribals got a chance in the evening session to fly.
After the balloons flew into air, there was a drizzle for some time. Making matters worse, three out of 16 balloons did not take off in the last minute due to lack of material and gas. Visakhapatnam Tourism Divison ED Sriramulu Naidu admitted that the AP Tourism regretted over the nature’s vagaries. The event was organised in the presence of ITDA Project Director Ravi Pattanshetti and Sub Collector Balaji.