Chandana Khan, Special Chief Secretary, Tourism, Govt of Andhra Pradesh speaks with T3 about the initiatives by the state govt to promote tourism
We have got the highest number of awards but that has not made us arrogant. We are very humbled. We are thinking how to be worthy of awards and fill up the gap areas. For example, we have a 1,000 km coast, but we have been lagging behind in developing beach resorts. We are now developing four beach resorts which are slated to open by June in Nellore, Prakasam and other places. Post awards, we are concentrating on completing the long pending Govt of India funded tourism projects and opening them up for public along with other tourism related infrastructure development currently underway in the state.
We are making significant investment on augmenting tourism infrastructure across offerings such as beach tourism, water sports, adventure sports, pilgrimage tourism, eco-tourism and rural tourism among others. We have identified 25 safe beaches along the coastal Andhra for the development of tourism-related activities. We have recently opened a Lake Resort in Warangal. We are also developing a Rs 45 crores project in the Vishakhapatnam Beach Corridor.
We have identified three camping sites in and around Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam with an eye on youth travellers. We are also developing a 3,500 pax capacity Convention Centre at Tirupati funded by GoI in parts as part of Large Revenue Generating Project. Centre will provide Rs 35 crores for the project and the rest of investment will be made by the state. The foundation for the project was laid down by the President of India in December last year.
Besides, we have already completed work on the temple circuit. We have upgraded lots of lesser known but well visited temple sites by building various amenities and facilities.
There is a lot of attention being paid to develop inter-district tourism within AP. For example, there is lot to explore in Tirupati for the people of Vijayawada. Similarly Vijayawada also has a lot to offer visitors from other districts in AP. We have already announced a special summer campaign aimed mainly at the travellers within the state. Specially designed tour packages have already been launched from Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam and Tirupati. We have tied up with APTDC properties, which are located all across the state for this campaign.
Also, many people from Andhra are traveling to destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong. We see scope in promoting places such as Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh etc. during the summer months with support from the local tour operators.
This year the state tourism budget has been enhanced over 10 times. The current budget is Rs 132 crores as against Rs 12 crores in 2012. Besides, GoI has sanctioned about Rs 221 crores for various tourism project in 2012-13 and 2013-14.