Centre to promote Puducherry as cruise tourism spot

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Puducherry, May 27 (UNI) The Centre is taking steps to promote Union Territory of Puducherry as a favourite destination for 'cruise tourism', Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni said.

Inaugurating a beach holiday resort 'Zest', set up by Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL) near here, she said discussions were initiated with the Shipping Ministry in this regard. ''A Cabinet note had been put up and the officials in the Puducherry administration, including Chief Minister N Rengasamy and Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, should initiate a dialogue with various shipping companies in this regard,'' she added.

''With the Auroville Village and the Aurobindo Ashram adding legacy and richness to make Puducherry as a complete tourism spot, this Union Territory will also be made a favourite destination for cruise tourism,'' she added.

Assuring her ministry's support, she said the state government and all the stakeholders should work together and assist the Centre to make Puducherry a major tourist centre in the country on the lines of Sikkim and Goa.

Ms Ambika Soni said the UPA Government, after assuming power in 2004, had identified several areas to make them as shining states in the tourism sector and Puducherry was one among those areas.

Observing that the number of inbound tourists in India was on a rise, Ms Ambika said there was demand for more Budget category hotels. She also urged the Puducherry government to identify young entrepreneurs to set up Budget hotels in public-private mode to cater to the growing demands and promised subsidy and all other assistance from her ministry in this regard.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Rengasamy said his government would encourage more private players like Mahindras to invest in tourism activities.

MHRIL Chairman Arun Nanda said this was the company's 24th resort in India and the largest in Puducherry with an investment of Rs 35 crore. It has 125 spacious rooms and all other facilities spreadover 24 acres.

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