Plans afoot for off-shore casinos in Union Territory

Will be aimed at tourists, says Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao

July 10, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:42 am IST - PUDUCHERRY:

EXPLORING OPTIONS:With several hotels on the verge of closure, the government is looking at ways to garner more revenue.— Photo: Special ArrangemenT

EXPLORING OPTIONS:With several hotels on the verge of closure, the government is looking at ways to garner more revenue.— Photo: Special ArrangemenT

Soon, foreign and domestic tourists visiting the tiny Union Territory, a former French outpost, could experience the luxury of casinos with the ruling Congress Government planning to set up off-shore casinos.

The proposal which is aimed at generating more revenue for the tourism sector is still in the preliminary stage with the Cabinet holding initial discussions before granting the final nod.

Speaking to The Hindu , Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, who also holds the portfolio of Tourism, said: “The Cabinet has held discussions on the proposal to start off-shore casinos modelled on the ones in Goa. We are exploring the options to allow them in Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The casinos would be primarily aimed at domestic and international tourists visiting the Union Territory.”

The hospitality industry in Puducherry is on the downturn with several hotels on the verge of closure.

The average occupancy rate in hotels in Puducherry is hovering at around 32 percent.

Tourists who visit Puducherry stay here for not more than three days. Hence, we are looking for additional sources to garner more revenue, Mr. Malladi said.

A high-level delegation led by the Minister is also planning to visit Goa shortly to study the concept of off-shore casinos, their revenue model and various other aspects. A proposal would be submitted to the government subsequently.

A senior official said that the Tourism Department was also exploring the option of starting theme parks, food courts and other recreational facilities with the idea of giving a fillip to tourism.

Also proposed is having a calendar of events round the year jointly organised by the Departments of Tourism and Art and Culture.

The calendar will include cultural and exchange programmes in all the enclaves spread throughout the year. The events will be held in various places in the enclaves to attract tourists.

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