Published on : Friday, March 30, 2018
Mukesh Kumar Meena (IAS) Secretary to Government (Tourism & Culture), Government of Andhra Pradesh shares exclusively with Travel and Tour World on Andhra Pradesh Tourism Board’s plan to attract more domestic and international leisure and business tourists.
Travel And Tour World: What is your plan for 2018 tourism season to attract more tourists to Andhra Pradesh?
Mukesh Kumar Meena: Andhra Pradesh has always been on the top in the tourism sector as this state in Southern India has 974 km coastline dotted with pristine beaches, hills and cities.
In terms of domestic tourism, we are in the third position. But this year, we are looking to attract more international tourists. We have identified 20 beautiful beaches to develop for international tourists. Out of which six are in Vishakhapatnam taken for development, will be completed in this year. Next year, we will undertake another 14 destinations for the tourism development.
Apart from beach destinations, Andhra Pradesh has more to offer. We have Buddhist Circuit Tourism covering 380 sites, out of which 10 are marked for initial development. Through Buddhist Circuit Tourism, we want to attract more international tourists from South Asia, while from India, we also like to attract more Indians to visit here when they are exploring other Buddhist sites like Bodh Gaya.
Recently, we have organized the Buddhist Tourism Festival to attract both domestic and international tourists. We invited more than 2000 monks from China, Japan, Thailand, Srilanka and Korea, sharing them with informational discussions to understand the significance of these Buddhist sites.
We are also trying to develop some unique and exclusive places to visit in Andhra Pradesh. We are in touch with Government of India to convert the abandoned ships and submarines into recreational spots. We took a 250 meters long old battleship from the Naval Department which is revamped and converted into an amusement center with museum, hotel and cafe.
We are also developing another civic recreation spot, 3 kilometres long Havelock Bridge in Rajahmundry which has been taken from Indian Railways. This will be completed within one year.
We have also the opportunities for island tourism as we have 700 acres of the island in Vijayawada on Krishna River. On this island, two wellness resorts and a tourist plaza are coming up to lure the leisure tourists. We have also a fund sanction to construct a sea lion park in Bhavani Island. Within two or three years, we will finish the development of Vijayawada as river tourism destination.
Travel And Tour World: As I realized from some of the press releases that first seaplane was tested in Krishna River in your state. How do you make this as the tourist attraction?
Mukesh Kumar Meena: Yeah, while focusing on the developmental structure of river tourism, we tested the seaplane arrivals on Bhavani Island. We are collaborating with Spice Jet to bring the seaplane for the tourists within next six months. We have no rules as of now to regulate the seaplanes, but we requested the Government of India to make certain rules for the maintaining of seaplanes. We promised also SpiceJet to build an infrastructure to run the seaplane project, making the routes to travel easier and locate the place for seaplane ports.
Travel And Tour World: India is becoming an interesting destination in MICE tourism. Can you highlight the inbound MICE tourism opportunities in Andhra Pradesh?
Mukesh Kumar Meena: In terms of MICE, Vizag is a place offering to host the meetings, events or conventions. Recently, last week in Industrial Summit, a foundation has been laid to build a big modern MICE center and an international standard luxury hotel by Lulu Group. This will be completed by 24 months and thus will form India’s biggest MICE destination.
Travel And Tour World: What are the countries you target for international tourists?
Mukesh Kumar Meena: Presently, a large number of tourists are coming from the United Kingdom and France. We are trying to attract other countries like Russia, East Europe, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine by giving the information and participating in different international travel trade shows.