Cancellation of Visakha Utsav for seventh time in a row has become a bitter pill to swallow for many with the growing feeling that holding of the annual event on fixed days would help showcase the tourism potential of Visakhapatnam.

The utsav, which got a spectacular response in the past, was cancelled this time, citing devastation caused by the cyclonic storm Nilam. The programme was cancelled in 2011 after making arrangements for Sentosa laser show of Singapore at picturesque beach locales with replicas of Jagannath temple, Puri, Simhachalam, and Sri Kanaka Mahalakshmi temples at selected grounds in the city.

The utsav was first launched in 1997 when M.G. Gopal was the District Collector and Vijay Kumar was the Joint Collector.

During its launch, everyone thought it would be made an annual feature. When Veena Ish was the Collector, the format of the utsav was improved by holding similar utsavs at Araku, Bhimili, and other places simultaneously.

“Visakha Utsav became a role model for others in the State hold Kakatiya and other utsavs but unfortunately on one plea or the other, partly due to political interference, it has become jinxed ever since 2005,” a senior official told The Hindu.

During Visakha Utsav held 1999, the then Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu declared plans to make the utsav an annual feature.

“In a coastal city, cyclone-induced rain is a common feature. Drawing lessons from Dubai Shopping Festival, Goa Carnival and Konark Festival, Visakha Utsav should be organised on fixed days every year under the aegis of an independent committee like the Exhibition Society of Hyderabad,” pointed out M.V. Narayana Rao, honorary secretary of Vizagapatnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Many feel that tourist operators and tourists could get the first-hand experience on tourist spots of Visakhapatnam – the sun-kissed beaches of Rushikonda and RK Beach, Erramattidibbalu (red sand dunes near Bhimili), the famed Budddhist sites of Thotlakonda and Bojjanakonda, Araku Valley and million-year-old Borra Caves if the utsav becomes a regular feature.

“Vizag has immense tourism potential. Hence, Visakha Utsav should be organised on the lines of Goa Carnival and other beach festivals on fixed days,” opined U. Trinadha Babu, a travel operator.

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