INDIA has announced it will throw open a total of seven islands for tourism development in the next few years to increase the country's beach tourism offerings.
AK Singh, lieutenant governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said: “We have identified (four) islands for development. A large number of tourist attractions exists across the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but we are planning to do more to attract tourists.”
Tourist-friendly infrastructure offering guests scuba diving and water sports options should be completed by 2016.
Singh added that night landing facilities would also be developed at Andaman and Nicobar's Port Blair airport by 3Q2014 to allow international flights to stop over. While 96 flights pass the airport every day, none land there.
The archipelago comprises 556 islands of which 37 are inhabited. In 2013, 250,000 tourists visited this area.
The government will also build beach resorts and water sports facilities on three uninhabited Lakshadweep islands located in the Arabian Sea.
“Thinnakkara, Suheli Par and Cherium are the three islands in Lakshadweep where we are planning to build tourism infrastructure at a cost of Rs6 billion (US$99.8 million),” said AM Hussain, assistant director, Lakshadweep Tourism.
Other islands in the cluster offer activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling and windsurfing, making use of the silver sand beaches and abundant marine life.
The islands are connected by sea and air from Kochi and Calicut. Lakshadweep Tourism will procure two new ships to cater to the increasing tourist traffic.
In 2013, 17,000 tourists visited the Lakshadweep Islands.