Srikant Nagulapalli, Secretary Tourism, Andhra Pradesh was recently at India Tourism Summit as the partner state. He made a presentation on how the new state of Andhra, for all your familiarity with it, was offering green field opportunities for hotel investment. Below is an excerpt from his presentation.
“Andhra Pradesh is a new state with an old name. The state is about 1,000 kms long on the east coast of India and is closest to South-East Asia. After the bifurcation of the state, we have identified tourism as one of the major drivers of the state economy and accordingly certain policy frame work and targets have been set for implementing the tourism policy. The state has targeted about 8% of the GDP share as far as tourism is concerned with about a million jobs in the next 10 years.
Pro-active policies and a government that understands the importance of tourism
A very good tourism incentive policy has been put in place which is ranked the best in the country by WTTC 2 years ago. The state has also been ranked number one in ease of doing business this year. We have a very pro-active CM, Chandrababu Naidu, and the kind of importance that is given to the tourism industry is immense. In the last 2 years, we have seen about two thousand new hotel rooms added and we still have a lot of shortage of hotel rooms because all the 5-star hotel rooms got left behind in Hyderabad. Unfortunately, we did not get a share of those hotels so we have to build these hotel rooms afresh.
Investment promotion and creating associations top agenda
The tourism policy currently focuses primarily on increasing footfalls and we have a target of about 50 lakh footfalls by 2029. We are already in the top four in terms of domestic arrivals and this is primarily because of religious tourism. Andhra Pradesh has the highest footfalls in terms of the temples. We have the best managed temples in the country. The current focus of the policy is on investment promotion and unfortunately, when the state got bifurcated we never had any tour operators. So, we are now in the process of creating associations for tour operators in Vizag, Amravati, Tirupati and Anantpur with each of these areas linked to an international airport. We have a lot of incentives which are being given to these tour operators to participate in domestic as well as international marts as part of creating the demand for the products that they have. This state is divided in to about 5 hubs with 30 priority destinations. When we are attending most of these national or international marts, the feedback that we are getting from them is that they would like to come here for the culture and heritage of the state. So that is what we intend to convert in to products and sell. When we were a united state we never felt the need to promote or market our tourism assets but after the bifurcation we saw that we have very beautiful assets in terms of having the largest tiger reserve in the country in Srisailam, which very few people are aware of, we have a location in Karnool which is one of the two places where human beings have evolved over the last 2 lakh years.
Vizag a growing MICE destination
Many such products exist but we have major challenges in terms of the international airport, e-visa and things like that. Apart from that the new capital is also becoming a destination for many of the international tourists, especially Amravati because of its 2500 years old history. This is the 5th time that location is becoming the capital of a political entity. That is a place from where Buddhism got exported from our country to the Far East. Incidentally this story was narrated by the Japanese Prime Minister to our Chief Minister when he met him first, three years ago. Vizag is again fast becoming a MICE destination where we are having a lot of business travellers that are coming in. These travellers are tending to stay back for a couple of extra days and extending the stay. We have a lot of opportunity there in creating good tourism products or enhancing the value of the existing products. We currently have a pipeline of about 14,000 crores investment which has been signed up by way of about 113 MoUs and each of these MoUs we track on an almost weekly basis with escort officers.
This year we have targeted about 1500 crores with the focus being on hotel resorts and water sports because of the large number of water bodies and very long coast line. A number of water sport operators are setting up their shop in Andhra Pradesh. In the last 1 year itself we have 15 locations where these facilities are being setup. Vijayawada and Amravati, we have the Krishna river where we have one of the largest islands in fresh waters. These are almost 4,500 acres of islands located between two cities. This is another location where a lot of investors have visited in the last 2-3 months and are setting up about 10 locations to create a route for operating jetties. Another focus area that we have is Konaseema which is similar to the back waters in Kerala. Probably quite different in terms of the culture, food and heritage. That is another location that we will be focussing on in the near future.
Special Tourist Zones in the offing
The state has identified 2 locations as special tourism zones where we have, taking from the recent budget announces, worked on the basic concepts. That is another area where a lot of investors have expressed interest. We have some properties of tourism development corporation which we are more or less privatising and almost 50% of the privatisation has been completed. We intend to withdraw from these properties and move the tourism development corporation to different areas. Also, a large number of PPP projects are being undertaken. We have identified around 60 land parcels and most of them are available on our website. The project ideas, information and memorandum for the same are on the website as well. Apart from this, in the next 4-5 months, we will be setting up a unique anti-submarine aircraft museum.