Bhuma Akhila Priya, the youngest minister in the cabinet who looks after the Tourism Portfolio, recently has interacted with Yo! Vizag. She spoke about the need to focus on tourism in Andhra Pradesh and Vizag, and plans to revamp the identity of AP Tourism.
Areas of focus
“The main areas where much needs to be done are those of tourism, culture and language.” Sharing that these three appeal us the most in Andhra Pradesh, Akhila Priya added that her portfolio gives her the opportunity to drive change and focus on them in India and in the international circuit.
Projects in the pipeline
With the coming year showing a start of new projects, she shared that 100 Tourism related MOUs have been signed across Andhra Pradesh of which 28-are from the city. However among these only 8 are serious, and now need to be taken forward. This means that Detailed Project Reports have to be prepared, timelines have to be set, and the projects have to be grounded. A few projects under DPR include the INS Virat, Special Tourism zone in Bhimili and Araku Tribal Circuit. A sum of 100 crores will be allocated for this, and proposals would be sent to the Central Government. Under coastal corridors, 14 beaches are also likely to be developed and a jetty at Bheemili under the Sagaramala project has also been sanctioned. Tenders for Lambasingi, Rushikonda South Side and Rallapalli to build resorts have been called. She also shared that the government may decide to privatise Rushikonda resorts if it wasn’t making profits.
‘The main areas where much needs to be done are those of tourism, culture and language.’
Permanent over temporary
Highlighting that both intra and international tourism to the city has improved, she said that these improvements are temporary and the direction of the curve can go up or down. She added that this was because Vizag and AP lack a proper focus in terms of tourism. “When one speaks of tourism in Visakhapatnam, only beaches come in mind, and there’s nothing one can do there.” She added that the need of the hour was to focus on tourism projects that portray a certain image of the city and are more permanent in nature, having an impact of up to 50 years. She added that projects should be such that they stay and grow and unlike the temporary solutions that are being kept in mind, long-term advantages would be focused upon.
Addressing the need to promote safety for tourists who visit either from other countries, cities or states, she shared that plans were on to have tourist police stations across the state, in regions such as Visakhapatnam and Araku. “With these police stations, the police would be able to immediately address problems that the tourists face.”
Sharing that many spots of Andhra Pradesh tourism aren’t doing well, she expressed, “We need to have ideas, planning and a vision on how to promote tourism spots in the region.” Speaking of tourism regions, especially the sad state of affairs at heritage sites, Akhila Priya added that motivating and training people at the department till the level of guides was much needed. “They should have a sense of belonging to the project”, which can be brought about by proper uniforms too. Adding that a training programme for tourist guides was underway, she said that problems of littering and marring tourism spots should be treated with a stern hand through stricter penalties.