Revival of pandemic keeps tourists to Lakshadweep at bay

Interview with Asar Pal Singh, resident commissioner, UT of Lakshadweep

Tourism

April 13, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Revival of pandemic keeps tourists to Lakshadweep at bay

The idyllic beaches of Lakshadweep have to wait a little longer for tourists

The tiny territory of Lakshadweep has struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic due to total collapse of tourism. The road to recovery remains a tough one due to poor connectivity and other hurdles.

The year 2020 was the toughest on record for tourism industry across the world. In India, the big and popular destinations got a big blow and were most talked about. However, many small destinations that completely depend on tourism had to take the maximum brunt. One such destination is Lakshadweep (meaning-a hundred thousand islands) and India’s smallest union territory.

Popular for its long stretch of coastline that is also considered as India’s most promising water sports destination. Due to its difficult accessibility, the island was completely cut off from tourists from all over India. Even though tourism has resumed almost everywhere in India, in Lakshadweep, the situation has barely improved from last year.

Media India Group spoke to Asar Pal Singh, resident commissioner, UT of Lakshadweep, about the current situation of Lakshadweep tourism and its mid-term plans.

How has 2020 been for Lakshadweep tourism?

The year 2020 has been bad for Lakshadweep tourism. During the period, all tourism was closed on March 31, 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, Lakshadweep is a highly seasonal destination and all activities except those at Bangaram close from May 15 every year even in a normal period.

Asar Pal Singh, resident commissioner, UT of Lakshadweep

What is the current status of tourism?

The Lakshadweep tourism has opened Bangaram Island for tourists on January 25, 2021 and Lakshadweep Samudram Package was resumed on March 5, 2021. However, the tourist flow to Bangaram and other islands are 10 pc of the flow received in the past.

What did the government do to help the tourism players during the crisis?

The priority of the government was to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of Atmanirbhar scheme, the tourism players were encouraged to diversify into catering and other activities. Moreover, special packages were designed for different resorts for attracting local islanders and others to the resorts.

What kind of numbers of tourists are you getting this year and your projection for the second half?

In November 2020, a total of 82 domestic tourists had visited Lakshadweep. The number went up to 109 in December. However, in January 2021 the numbers fell down drastically to 33 but picked up again in February when it was 74. Surprisingly we had one foreign tourist in February. The projection for second half is 50 pc of the normal flow to the island.

What are your plans for the mid-term? Any expansion plans?

As part of plans for revival of tourism in the midterm, more incentives will be offered to the tourists and infrastructure development will be taken up for keeping the island ready for more tourists when the pandemic ends.

What are new things you want to introduce?

The new things to be introduced in Lakshadweep include a cruise line operation to the islands. In the cruise ships only day excursions will be permitted and tourists will spend the night onboard the cruise ship. This will ensure compliances of Covid-19 protocols on board the ship and tourists will be confined to a bubble to the extent possible.

What are the prospects of Lakshadweep as a shooting location for foreign films?

Overseas film tourism is encouraged by permitting film shootings in the uninhabited islands like Bangaram, Thinnakara, Suheli and Cheriyam.

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