Chilika lagoon in Odisha was named Destination Flyways by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on 21 January 2014. The lagoon was named so for its sustainable and resilient destination for migratory birds.
Chilika is the only site to be selected from Asia by the UNWTO and was included in a list of eight such sites. The Destination Flyways initiative of UNWTO aims at promotion of sustainable tourism.
The status will help Chilika Development Authority (CDA) to develop strategies for protection of migratory birds through creation of innovative tourism and livelihood products. The chief executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) is Ajit Kumar Pattnaik
The Chilka Lake was recommended by six international agencies. These agencies were Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity, Convention of Migratory Species, Ramsar Convention Secretariat, World Heritage and Man and the Biosphere Programmes of UNESCO.
Earlier in January 2014, the UNWTO commissioned a mission for Chilika in January 2014 headed by Virginia Trapa (a member of UNWTO).
This season, around 7.19 lakh migratory birds have been sighted in the 1100-sq km lagoon which is less than the previous years. Last winter, around 8.77 lakh birds of 180 species had visited the lake and 8.83 lakh birds of 167 species had visited the blue lagoon in 2012.
Chilika Lake is situated on the east-coast of India in Orissa. It is the largest brackish water lake in Asia with estuarine character that sprawls along the east coast.
It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent. It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit the lagoon for at least part of their life cycle.
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
UNWTO is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
It was founded on 27 September 1970 and from 1979 onwards, the foundation day is celebrated as World Tourism Day.
In 1975, the first WTO Secretary-General is appointed and the General Assembly establishes WTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain.
UNWTO’s has a membership of 156 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 400 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.