Lagoon Villas to come to Lakshadweep’s Emeralds

Prelims level : Mains level : G.S- III Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning
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Why in News?

  • NITI Aayog plans ‘eco-cottages’ and a film city to boost tourism in the island territories.

NITI Aayog’s strategy to attract Tourist:

  • As an alternative to Mauritius and Maldives, NITI Aayog plans for “holistic development of the Island” in our Island territories. Because lagoons with luxurious water villas is not something India is known for
  • Other countries have built villas and attract tourists from across the globe. But we don’t have any such project. Lakshadweep, we have so much lagoon area.
  • NITI Aayog, along with other stakeholders, including the Island Development Agency (IDA), which is chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, is conducting a technical feasibility study for the project in both Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands along with ensuring that there is no damage to the marine ecosystem.
  • Additionally, efforts are on to identify an island where a film city can be built. “It is a new idea that will not only attract tourists but also relieve some of the pressure on Mumbai as a filming hub.
  • As part of the plan, the government will issue tenders for four tourism-based hospitality projects – three in Andaman & Nicobar, and one in Lakshadweep.
  • These will mainly be eco-cottages for which private players can bid to build. The projects will add about 700 rooms.
  • “Ecological concerns and tribal-related issues will be fully addressed.

Stagnant in Foreign Tourism:

  • In spite of the fact that globally, there is a high demand for eco-tourism, adventure tourism (sea sports, game fishing) and cruise tourism, the inflow of foreign tourists was stagnant at around 15,000. But the arrival of domestic tourists in Andaman and Nicobar Islands rose from over 2.02 lakh in 2011 to over 3.84 lakh in 2016.

Improving connectivity to boost tourism:

  • The Diglipur Airport (in the Andamans) is expected to be operational for civilian aircraft by December, 2018.
  • “Better connectivity to Diglipur, Port Blair, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay through smaller aircraft, supplemented with more helicopter services using the 17 available helipads, will boost inter-island connectivity in Andaman and Nicobar. Efforts are on to start international flights from the Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair.

Importance of Island Development:

  • The 1382 offshore-identified islands of India hold immense unexploited potential for fostering growth and achieving cohesive socio-economic development of the region in particular and also, the nation as a whole.
  • They can significantly contribute to the GDP by leveraging the gains from promoting infrastructure and tourism on a large scale.
  • However, care must be taken to safeguard and maintain the position of these islands as vital strategic assets for national security while keeping their nature and composition as biodiversity hotspots intact.
  • Given the strategic location of Andaman & Nicobar (A&N Islands) and the Lakshadweep Islands and China’s belligerent expansionist policy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), not only is there a need to develop critical infrastructure and upgrade the military base in these regions, but also to harness the multiplier effect generated as infrastructure connectivity strengthens. This in turn, is expected to boost tourism and spruce up economic activity in the region.
  • The Islands host an unexplored Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with clearly demarcated boundaries that can be capitalized on in numerous ways; the varied ecosystem can be exploited for its medicinal plants and exotic plant species, sustainable agriculture and horticulture practices conducive to the agro-climatic conditions of the regions can be propagated, large-scale hydrocarbon explorations can be undertaken, and alternate renewable energy resources can be exploited so as to meet the energy needs of the nation.
  • Fisheries, the mainstay of the larger populace of these regions, can be given a thrust so as to develop modernized and sustainable inland fisheries and aquaculture ecosystem integrated with the ‘Blue Economy’ vision.
  • Most importantly, the Islands can be developed as prime Tourist Hotspots for not just the country, but also internationally.
  • The pristine beaches, coupled with rich tropical vegetation, can be turned into a more economical and attractive alternative to conventional destinations such as Bali and Maldives, thereby creating many forward and backward linkages and help boost the economy of the regions to a large extent.
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