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regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 April 2024

Tourism ministry to turn spotlight on promoting Lakshadweep, domestic islands & lesser known destinations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's early January visit to Lakshadweep has drawn global attention to the archipelago and its immense tourism potential

PTI Bengaluru Published 18.02.24, 02:26 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

The Union Ministry of Tourism will adopt a sustainable tourism development model to showcase Lakshadweep but is keen on not "overcrowding" the islands to preserve its ecology and ensure that the local environment is not spoiled, a senior government official said.

Besides promoting domestic islands, less popular spots in India are being identified to develop tourism and smaller promotional programmes put in place, Director of Ministry of Tourism, Bengaluru office, Mohamed Farouk, said.

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He emphasised that the Ministry doesn't want to encourage mass tourism in these lesser known destinations at least for sometime so that the beauty and ecological sensitivity of the places are maintained.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's early January visit to Lakshadweep has drawn global attention to the archipelago and its immense tourism potential.

He also posted pictures of his undersea exploration on X and shared his "exhilarating experience" after snorkelling in the islands located in the Arabian Sea. Pictures also showcased moments from his early morning strolls along the pristine beaches of the islands.

"Of late, our Honourable Prime Minister visited Lakshadweep. It is one of the most sought after islands and the beaches are beautiful there. These (Lakshadweep) are one of the best beaches that we will find in India. So we are promoting Lakshadweep. There are lot of inquires about Lakshadweep as a tourist destination. We are coming up with good star classified hotels in Lakshadweep very soon," Farouk told PTI in an interview.

"Taj hotel group is coming up with hotels there. They have already started the work and I am sure within one or two years time, they would be catering to the tourists. The high-end tourists will find Lakshadweep, a beautiful beach destination compared to any other world class destinations," he said.

Incidentally, three deputy ministers of Maldives used disparaging comments against Modi for his post on ‘X’ following his visit to Lakshadweep, inferring it was an attempt to project the Union Territory as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives. The controversy also led several Indian celebrities appealing to people to explore domestic islands instead of going to the Maldives.

Several initiatives are being taken to promote tourism in Lakshadweep, including construction of additional rooms and plans afoot for a big airport, with the archipelago being discussed across the world after the visit of Modi, its administrator Praful Patel had recently said.

The Ministry has also identified the islands which would be developed as a tourist destination spots in Lakshadweep but Farouk said the focus would be to adopt sustainable tourism development model since it a "very eco-sensitive destination." "Lakshadweep has many islands and we have selected a few right now like Minicoy, Suheli Par, Agatti and also Bangaram.

Lakshadweep is a very eco senstive destination, it is ecologically fragile and we have to ensure that when we do tourism, it should be sustainable. So, we are looking at a sustainable tourism development model where Lakshadweep's unique features, the fragile eco senstive eco system will be maintained," he said.

As of now, the Ministry is cautious about not bringing in too many players in Lakshadweep as it does not want the island to be "overcrowded" at this point in time.

"....so that the future generations get to see the same beauty as this generation get when they visit Lakshadweep. So we are very very careful about not bringing in too many players. Depending on the potential in future, we might come up with new hotel groups and we don't want to crowd it too much and ensure that Lakshadweep as a destination is not overcrowded and the local environment is not spoiled.

So we are looking at sustainable tourism development in both Lakshadweep as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands," Farouk said.

He noted that India is a country not short of tourism products and that it will take a lifetime for any traveller to visit India as a whole.

There are less popular, lesser known sites. For example in Karnataka, the Ministry has identified a few places like Sakleshpura which is a coffee and eco tourism destination. "Chikkamagaluru...Coorg (Kodagu) is a very famous destination. You know people go to Coorg more often but there are places like Sakleshpura which are picking up. It is equally good to Coorg and now we are making efforts to promote these lesser known destinations.", Farouk said.

"There are jungle lodges and resorts of the Government of Karnataka. Some beautiful properties throughout Karnataka. For examples, the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is a beautiful place but most people do not know Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary as well as they know Kabini.

The need of the hour is.... all Government of India tourist offices along with the state governments...we are identifying lesser known state destinations and we are making smaller promotional programmes so that the locals and nearby tourist go and visits these destinations." "Again..we don't want to encourage mass tourism. These are lesser known destinations and we want it to be lesser known for sometime so that the ecological sensitivity, the beauty of the place is maintained for sometime.

We are ensuring that these destinations are maintained well and that their eco sensitivity is taken care of and when the tourist travel, they should feel that the destination is same even when they visit after 20 years," he added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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