Port Blair, Feb 6: Tourism is the lifeline of the Islands and it will get a major boost in the years to come, said the Lt. Governor, A&N Islands, Prof. Jagdish Mukhi addressing the gathering soon after unveiling the plaque marking the induction and dedication of the newly acquired passenger ferry ‘Makruzz Gold’ of Mak Logistics Private Ltd. at Phoneix Bay Jetty here this evening. He opined that impediments pertaining to development of A& N Islands will be sorted out and more tourism facilities are being added to give further fillip to the tourism sector.
The Lt. Governor said in order to attract high-end tourists to the Islands, the need for providing better connectivity is of paramount importance and is the top priority of the Administration. He said through the rigorous pursuance of the Administration, the delayed OFC project has finally taken concrete shape and is expected to be completed by Dec 31, 2018. This will improve the tele-connectivity in the Islands, he stated.
The Lt. Governor further stated that air connectivity and high tariff issue has also been the priority of the Administration and with the concerted efforts of the Administration, six new flights have been introduced in Isles connecting Port Blair with Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata. Presently, 18 flights are connecting Port Blair with other cities of the country. The increased number of flight service has helped in bringing down the air tariff, the Lt. Governor added.
The Lt. Governor also expressed happiness that within a span of one year, the A&N Islands have witnessed 38% increase in Tourist footfall in Isles. He stated that during the calendar year 2016, the flow of tourist to the Islands has crossed 4 lakh adding that the target of the Administration is 10 lakh tourists per year. He said efforts are on to ensure the required facilitates are made available for meeting the needs of the tourists. The Lt. Governor said with the induction of ‘Makruzz Gold’ into service, tourists visiting Neil & Havelock would now be able to commute more comfortably and frequently.
Regarding the need for connecting Port Blair with Phuket, the Lt. Governor said the matter has been taken up by the Administration and it is under active consideration of Govt. of India. He mentioned that the Administration has also suggested for connecting Kolkata with Phuket via Port Blair.
The Lt. Governor said in order to give more publicity to A&N Islands, the Administration has given an advertisement in Delhi, showcasing Andaman as a tourist destination which has resulted in increase in number of tourists from Delhi. He stressed that tourism of A&N Islands needs to be given wider publicity in mainland and elsewhere in the world.
The Lt. Governor also underlined the need for improving the facilities for tourists visiting the Islands. Accordingly, three sites have been allotted to private sector for tourism purpose at Neil, Long Island and Havelock. He said, Taj group of Hotel has assured that they will complete the project by Aug 31, 2017at Havelock. The Lt. Governor also stated that the Administration would strive to set up good hotels in the coming years adding that with the available sites, as many as 250 hotels can be set up in Isles. The Lt. Governor also announced that this year, the Administration is on the plan to set up two hotels with tented accommodations having all the facilities of a five star hotel through PPP mode. He said the Administration would act as a facilitator for improving tourism in Isles while major work should be followed up by private sector.
The Lt. Governor said, this year more focus would be in developing tourism in the North & Middle Andaman District. He said new ventures like adventure and sports tourism is necessary for attracting tourists to the Islands. Accordingly, the Administration has decided to restart the service of seaplane in Isles.
The Lt. Governor also announced that plans are on the card for introducing railway facilities in Isles and the Administration will not focus only in one sector but it will be a multi-sided approach, he added.
The Lt. Governor also informed about the work for construction of bridges at Humphrey strait and Middle Strait in which the work for one bridge has been allotted and tender has been floated while the CRZ clearance for the other bridge is awaited and the Administration is working a way out in this regard. He said the work for widening and strengthening of 90km road will be carried out and work has been allotted.
The Lt. Governor stated that there is a need to provide good facilities to tourists and the Administration will strive to provide international standard tourism facilities in Isles in the coming years. He also urged the Islanders to come forward and explore opportunities in various sectors and help tourism in the islands to flourish.
The Lt. Governor and other dignitaries also got onboard the newly inducted ‘Makruzz Gold’ to see the facilities. The dignitaries were also presented with mementoes on the occasion.
Giving technical details of the newly acquired passenger ferry, the Technical Director, Mak Logistics Private Ltd., Shri C. S. Ashok said ‘Makruzz Gold’ has a capacity of 330 pax with all modern facilities and safety measures to meet the requirement of the tourists. ‘Makruzz Gold’ will join the existing fleet, ‘Markuzz’ and ‘Coastal Cruise’ in connecting Port Blair to Havelock and Neil Island daily, he said.
Earlier, welcoming the gathering, the Commercial Director, Mak Logistics Private Ltd. Shri Mohd. Jadwet gave a brief account of the history of Mak Logistics Private Ltd. that initially started with a cargo vessel. In 2009, it diversified into passenger segment with the launch of Makruzz and Coastal Cruise, which received overwhelming response from the tourists. He also stated that Mak Logistics is purely customer centric and it also strives to create a strong brand of Andaman with its ferry services. He also highlighted the need for modern ferry terminal at Port Blair besides air connectivity to South East Asian countries, increasing capacity of hotel rooms, single window clearance system and relaxation of CRZ norms.
The Chairperson, PBMC, Shri B. Eshwar Rao, Chairperson, SSWB, Dr. Poonam Arora, Secretary Tourism, Smti Ankita Mishra Bundela, Senior officers of the Administration, Members of ACCI, officials of Mak Logisitics Private Ltd. and others from the Tourism Industry were present on the occasion.
The programme concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Director Mak Logistic, Shri Kundu.