'New tourism plan a boom for Andaman economy'
Port Blair, Sept 11: Andaman Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) has backed the new tourism plan of Andaman and Nicobar Administration saying 'if implemented, the new tourism plan will be a boom for Andaman economy'.
Recently Andaman and Nicobar Administration had disclosed its latest plan to open 50 new sites in 15 virgin islands of Andaman and Nicobar for the promotion of tourism industry, which had suffered huge loss after December 26, 2004 tsunami.
"The initiative should have been taken long back, this is a long pending demand. Opening more islands for tourism will certainly benefit everyone in these islands," Mohd. H Jadwet the president of Andaman Chamber of Commerce and Industries told UNI in Port Blair.
According to Andaman and Nicobar Administration these new sites would be open for bidding for investors. In the first phase, tenders will be invited for four or five islands. Depending on the response and circumstances, other islands will be opened to bidders in phase manner.
"These sites are selected to set up environmentally sensitive hotels and beach resorts under our promotion of tourism plan," Dharam Pal the Secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Tourism Department told UNI in Port Blair.
The ACCI was demanding to open more islands for tourisms and investors since many years. "Any investor even a foreign investor would bring many side-businesses and employment for local people," Mohd. Jadwet added.
The ACCI president feels that for foreign investors the limitation of visa duration is a major hitch-up. Present law permits a foreigner to stay in these islands nearly for 30 days at one stretch.
"Any firm or person investing in our islands would certainly prefer to stay here for longer duration," he added.
After 2004 tsunami the local tourism industry had collapsed for a few months, but with new planning and efforts the industry is doing well again. Before the tsunami struck, more than one lakh people visited these islands annually, but in 2005 the number of tourists shrunk to 20,000 -- nearly all Indians.
This year, however, tourism has bounced back. Between January and July almost 52,000 tourist arrivals were recorded in the archipelago. In the months of June and July the arrival of foreign tourists has doubled.