50,000 foreigners visit the place every year

: A slew of projects, including a national centre for performing arts, a sea life leisure park and a global Ayurveda village, have been set in motion as part of the Rs.4,000-crore comprehensive infrastructure and tourism development of Varkala, which has taken a prominent place in the world tourism map.

The projects have been worked out for the overall development of Varkala, Papanasham and the adjacent Black beach and to build the requisite infrastructure for tan-seekers from abroad.. Nearly 50,000 foreign and 1.60 lakh domestic tourists visit Varkala every year.

The semi-urban locality, a known tourism and pilgrim destination, which covers seven panchayats and a municipality, will get a master plan with a “horizon year 2041”. Official sources told The Hindu that the draft of the master plan prepared by Rail India Technical Economic Services (RITES) would be put in public domain for discussion.

The projects have been launched by Vision Varkala Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (VVID), the special purpose vehicle set up by the government to tap funds from various departments and agencies for developing Varkala.

A Rs.1.43-crore ‘bali mandapam’ on the Papanasham beach, the first of the project under Vision Varkala 2020, has already been commissioned for those coming to perform rituals during Vavu bali to offer prayers to their ancestors.

Arts centre

The stage has been set for the take-off of the National Centre for Performing Arts aimed at popularising culture, heritage, and tourism aspects. The VVID has got two acres of land on the Government Guest House premises for the Rs.10-crore first phase of the high-end tourism and cultural project.

The aim is to develop the centre to international standards and to forge a tie-up with the Association of Asia Pacific Performing Arts Centre, Singapore, for cultural and technology transfers across the globe. In the second and third phase, another 10 acres will be needed.

A Sea Life Leisure Park on 50 acres is another high-end tourism project in PPP mode and aimed at increasing the tourist inflow into Varkala by five times. The Rs. 1,000-crore project billed as the first of its type in the country will house 100 sea animals and five dolphins that will be used for entertainment and educational purposes.

The Global Ayurveda Village is to be set up on 70 acres of land in Elakamon at an estimated cost of Rs.200 crore. Piloted by Sam Pitroda, the project aims at making Varkala the world capital of the Ayurveda sector. Under the project, R&D and high-end treatment facility with high-class infrastructure will be taken up.

VVID office

The VVID office will be set up in Varkala this year to expedite the projects, sources said. Land had been indentified for the office. A sum of Rs.2.20 crore was sanctioned in the last State budget for the projects.

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