Economy slowdown and stir against bifurcation hit tourism revenue

The development of travel industry in Visakhapatnam has more or less remained on paper for past several years despite emphatic declarations to make it a tourist hub with world-class infrastructure.

“There is not much improvement in tourist arrivals with foreign traveller arrival remaining more or less constant. The tourism revenue is hit hard this time due to economy slowdown and agitations over bifurcation,” admitted a tourism official.

Golden beaches, green-capped valleys, famed Buddhist sites all along the coast, Araku – known as poor man’s Ooty and million-year-old Borra Caves offer plenty for leisure tourists and nature lovers but their potential remained untapped to a large extent.

“The beachfront infrastructure is very poor. Visakhapatnam as destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) is yet to be promoted. No incentives are available for the hotels with regular power shutdown. We do get international travellers but no service could be offered to them in the bar after 11.30 p.m.,” General Manager of Novotel Visakhapatnam Varun Beach Madhav Bellamkonda, said.

Mega plans

Mega plans are being made since mid-90s with so-called investors’ conferences initiated by the powers-that-be. Tourism Minister Vatti Vasant Kumar held a conclave three years ago and announced that Rushikonda’s ambience, the popular beach location in the city, would be redesigned on the lines of Goa. “It will soon become Goa of Andhra Pradesh minus the casinos,” he had announced.

Later ILFS was appointed as consultant to design some big projects based on their feasibility. Accordingly, global tenders were floated inviting bids for tourism projects including theme park on the lines of Sentosa, international convention centre to promote meetings, international conferencing and exhibitions (MICE), argoyadham with spa and wellness centres and Wonders of World featuring miniatures of world famous landmarks.

All these projects involved an investment of Rs.850 crore. Twenty nine bidders who responded backed out due to increase in land prices following which the tourism authorities are planning to float global tenders again.

The only good news is that the beach corridor project to create some amenities and widen the road between Visakhapatnam and 17 century Dutch township of Bheemunipatnam is being grounded at a cost of Rs.45 crore.

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