Govt plans to open up to 100 islands for eco-tourism in the next 12 months

Island, island projectThe government is willing to give key approvals upfront for investors who wish to invest in developing new islands in the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands to reduce their risks, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said on Friday.Addressing the first investors’ conference on re-developing new islands, Kant said foreign tourists in India would not need separate permission to visit these islands. This is in accordance with the government’s plan, which would help in increasing their inflow, he said.Potential investors, mostly from the hotel and tourism sectors, attended the conference. They wanted to explore the possibility of building tourist resorts, along with recreational and adventure sports facilities, in four islands in Andaman and Nicobar and three in Lakshadweep in the first phase.In Andaman and Nicobar, bids have been invited for developing beach resorts and tree-houses in Long Island, Aves Island, Smith Island and Neil Island, while in Lakshadweep beach resorts are to be developed in Minicoy, Suheli and Kadmat in the first phase.
Officials said around 600 rooms would be constructed in these islands in phases.Kant said the government was looking to offer 100 islands in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep for developing eco-tourism on a public private partnership (PPP) basis.ALSO READ: Lakshadweep’s new islands to be thrown open – only for ‘high-end’ touristsPrivate players, apart from organising banquets and conferences in the resorts, could use the islands to develop other tourism sources such as scuba-diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and game fishing. Private players, along with resorts, will also have to arrange for water desalination plants, solar power generation facilities, and the infrastructure for beach operations and floating jetty.“We are opening up 10 islands, and in the next 12 months we should be opening up close to 100 islands,” Kant said.Kant said the government’s objective was to ensure a sustainable and eco-friendly development of island projects.“We will keep in mind the carrying capacity of these pristine islands to ensure they are never under burden,” he noted.To attract investors, the government is building a ro-ro facility for greater connectivity in the Andaman Islands. The Island Development Agency (IDA) an apex body under the chairmanship of the home minister, was constituted in June last year, while the NITI Aayog, along with the respective UT administration/state governments, has been mandated to steer the holistic development of the islands programme. The government has done a detailed land survey and demarcation of project sites.Officials said many private parties including big hotel chains in India and abroad had shown an interest in developing resorts.The partners will be selected through a two-stage transparent international competitive bidding process.

Source: Business Standard