VISAKHAPATNAM:The Port City is poised to become the destination for adventure and water sports on the East Coast. The state government’s latest Tourism Policy-2015, has opened gates for new tourism projects. In all, 19 locations have been identified across Andhra Pradesh to promote adventure sports, beaches, backwaters and theme parks, with Visakhapatnam taking the biggest pie.
With the long beach, Visakhapatnam may soon emerge as a favourite spot for adventure and water sports. The government has recently handed over provisional certificates to two Vizag-based firms for setting up the adventure and water sports at Bheemili, Mangamaripeta, Rushikonda and Sagarnagar as well as Araku. “Once all other permissions are in place, the fulfledged operations are likely to commence in the last week of October or first week of November,” said B Balaram Naidu, director of Livein Adventures, which specialises in scuba diving.
A former Indian Navy sky diving instructor and a qualified submariner, Balaram Naidu has been offering scuba diving and other adventure sports services to select group of adventure sports enthusiasts for the past few years in Vizag and with the government’s nod, the services will be now extended to tourists. “Basic instruction and training will be conducted in a swimming pool for tourists, followed by scuba diving of about 45 minutes at about 15 metre depth in the sea, about 3 km off the shore near Mangamaripeta,” he explained. He also plans to train youth in adventure sports, particularly scuba diving, after launching the operations.
Along with Balaram Naidu, Md F Rahman of Crescent Adventures and Water Sports will be the only person to offer the adventure and water sports to tourists in Visakhapatnam. Through separate firms, they will offer scuba diving, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, speedboats, peddle boats, and water joy rides with banana boats, frantic ride and great big marble. Air sports like parasailing, paragliding, and paratriking besides All Terrain Vehicle rides and hiking and trekking are also in the pipeline in Visakhapatnam and Araku. The provisional certificates awarded to them would permit them to make financial and technical arrangements and obtain statutory permissions, licences and No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the authorities concerned.
Initially, Rahman intends to commence his operations with speed boating and jeep parasailing by October-end. Later, other adventure and water sports will be launched in phases. “With a vast coastline, there is a lot of scope for water and adventure sports in Andhra Pradesh especially Vizag. The government has permitted us to rope in investors and also reach out to the banks for funding, based on which the operations will be expanded further,” he added. The state government’s new tourism policy offers 15 per cent subsidy on the basic investment and a reduced VAT from 14.2 to 5 per cent.
The tourism department authorities said that the private companies who acquired provisional certificates to launch their operations, have been asked to submit a draft copy of their requirements, including facilities to be provided at the tourism spots. “Basic facilities like road connectivity, drinking water, electricity and permissions from the local authorities for commencement of operations, will be facilitated by the government. However, the companies are also requesting for changing rooms, toilets and other such facilities which will be forwarded to the higher authorities,” said a senior officer in the Tourism department.
Besides Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Kakinada, Kurnool and Tirupati are among the favourite destinations for adventure and water sports. These are among the 19 locations identified by the state government. Various tourist attractions will be added to these places with public-private partnership. Hotels and resorts have been also made part of these destinations to promote adventure and water sports.
In all, about Rs 100 crore are expected to be invested by different private companies in the adventure sports over the next five years across Andhra Pradesh. Another Rs 150 crore will be invested in hotels and resorts, including theme parks. Grounding process has been initiated for water sports, amphibious vehicles, river cruises, beach and backwater sports, sea planes, hotels, resorts and wayside amenities.
For Adventure lovers
- Adventure and water sports to come up at 19 locations across Andhra Pradesh.
- Vizag including Araku to have majority of these tourist spots with scuba diving, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, speedboats, peddle boats, and water joyrides with banana boats, frantic and great big marble. Air sports like parasailing, paragliding, and paratriking besides All Terrain Vehicle rides.
- Bhavani Island in Vijayawada and Horsley Hills near Tirupati are among other major adventure and water sports destinations.
- Theme parks and resorts are on the cards.