VIJAYAWADA: INS Viraat, the soon to be decommissioned aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, will now become a tourist attraction of Andhra Pradesh.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday said that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had accepted the proposals to hand over the mammoth ship to Andhra Pradesh once it gets decommissioned in June this year.
The ship, according to the Chief Minister will be anchored at Visakhapatnam and turned into a ship museum and a star hotel. “It has 500 rooms and a conference hall to seat 500 people. Since it is an aircraft carrier, helicopters can easily land on it. It will be convenient to hold big conferences apart from being a major tourist attraction,” he explained.
Chandrababu Naidu, who is confident that INS Viraat can be a game changer for the tourism development in the state, said its conversion into a ship museum and hotel will be jointly carried out by Indian Navy and Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA). The funding for the same too will be from the Central Government. The project will be done through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
Emphasising on the need for taking advantage of the long coastline and its several beaches, Chief Minister said the government has plans for promoting beach and water front tourism activities like yachting, sailing, para gliding, para-sailing and sea cruises.
Stating that INS Viraat will be a multi-purpose tourism project, he said attractions like stay in commandar’s room, which could cost 1 lakh or 2 lakh per day can become a major attraction.
Earlier, reviewing the progress of tourism projects and proposals in the pipeline, he said for the tourism to develop in the state, related works need to be completed quickly. He said he wants to develop the state as a tourist destination like Istanbul in Turkey. “In Istanbul, as many as 80,000 rooms were constructed in short order and infrastructure was put in place to have 1000 flights operated with ease. We too have long coastline and should take advantage of the same, “ he said.
Officials informed him that at present, there 664 hotel rooms in the state with star rating and another 2,609 are in various stages of construction.
They said steps have been taken to have as many as 15,000 hotel rooms with star rating available in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Tirupati and other places in the state by March 2017.