State governments across India have been making slow progress to bring back normalcy post the COVID-19 induced lockdown. With the latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Andhra Pradesh too, is set to make relaxations for few sectors in the state. Speaking about the rule relaxations, Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao has stated that private hotels in the state will be allowed to open for business starting from 8 June 2020. On the occasion of completing one year in office as the Minister of Tourism for Andhra Pradesh, he also announced that Andhra Pradesh will adopt a new tourism policy once the COVID-19 pandemic eases its grip on the state. He said that districts in AP will host cultural festivals every month in order to attract more tourists.
Stating the progress achieved by the Tourism Department, the Minister revealed that 195 million national and international tourists visited Andhra Pradesh in 2018. In 2019, this number went up to 236 million – a significant 21 percent increase. He announced that the tourism officials will be visiting travel conclaves and conferences organised around the country to showcase the beauty of Andhra Pradesh. Mr Muttamsetti revealed plans to restore 136 hotel rooms in government-run Haritha Hotels at various tourist locations in AP including Araku, Nellore, Srisailam, Kurnool, Kadapa and Gandikota.
The Tourism Minister said that plans for a public-private partnership are being made, and meetings for the same will be held soon. Stating that the government has already taken safety measures to ensure that no boat-related mishaps occur in the future, he mentioned that nine control rooms have been set up at these vulnerable locations. A Tahsildar, a police officer and a Water Department official will be stationed at the control room. Permissions must be taken from these authorities to venture into the waters. These steps are being taken to avoid mishaps and dangerous accidents as witnessed by Andhra Pradesh previously, stated Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao.
The Minister further said that the Tourism Department was highly encouraged when Visakhapatnam Railway Station was awarded the Best Tourist-Friendly Railway Station in India back in September 2019. He said that various cultural festivals conducted in Bheemili, Visakhapatnam and Araku earlier this year were a success, and will continue to be organised in the future to promote Andhra Pradesh tourism.