Thursday, November 7, 2019

LG inaugurates 10-day Island Tourism Festival -2019; Emphasizes the need for making tourism a major industry of A&N Islands

Port Blair, Nov 7: The Lt. Governor, A&N Islands & Vice Chairman, Islands Development Agency, Admiral DK Joshi, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, NM, VSM (Retd.) as the chief guest formally inaugurated the 10-day annual carnival, the Island Tourism Festival at the ITF Ground here this evening. The Member of Parliament, A&N Islands, Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma, Smt. Vinita Sharma, Chief Secretary, A&N Administration, Shri Chetan B. Sanghi, Adhyaksh Zilla Parishad, South Andaman, Shri Subir Chander, Chairperson PBMC, Shri NK Udhaya Kumar, DGP, Shri Dependra Pathak, Padma Shree Awardee, Shri Naresh Chandra Lal, the ex-MP, Shri Bishnu Pada Ray, Smt. Rupa Ray, Senior Officers of the A&N Administration were present on the occasion. The inaugural ceremony had to be postponed yesterday due to inclement weather conditions.
Addressing the gathering, the Lt. Governor expressed his happiness to be part of the Islands Tourism Festival- 2019 and thanked the cultural contingents from different States and UTs for participating in the cultural extravaganza, which he said, has added value to this 10-day festival. 
The Lt Governor said, tourism is the life line of these Islands. As these Islands are rich in green cover, there is very little scope for development of other industries. Keeping in mind the great potential in the tourism sector, we have to promote tourism in such a way so that it becomes a major Industry in these Islands.
The Lt. Governor said, as per the valuable suggestion made by the Member of Parliament, ITF will be celebrated in a broader scale next year and suggestions from other stake holders will also be incorporated so that the profile of ITF can be improved further and it can be organized in National and International standard.
As far as tourism in these Islands is concerned, the A&N Islands witnessed a huge arrival of tourists in the year 2018, which crossed the 5 lakh mark. Every effort will be made by the A&N Administration to provide all required facilities to the tourists so that more tourists visit these Islands making them the most sought after tourism destination.
For the growth of tourism in these Islands, the Lt Governor said, under the aegis of Islands Development Agency (IDA), various tourism development projects are in the pipe line. Informing about some of the projects, the Lt. Governor said that last week, the A&N Administration received approval for 4 major tourism projects for these Islands. The Request For Qualification (RFQ) i.e commercial bid has been issued and an investors’ meet for the same will be held on Nov.13, 2019 at Prasar Bharati Bhawan, New Delhi, which will be attended by the Chief Secretary, A&N Administration. A similar meet will also be held at Cochin on Nov. 20, in which all the potential investors have been invited.
The Lt. Governor further informed that as per the schemes/tourism projects, minimum 60 percent employment has been reserved for the local youths of these Islands. Maintaining the environmental concerns and sustainability norms, these projects will be executed in conformity with the International parameters of ‘global green’, ‘grameen’ and ‘greha’. The A&N Administration is expected to receive commercial bid in next month for projects at Smith & Ross, Aves, Long Island and Shaheed Dweep and early next year, these projects will be brought to contract stage as these projects will be executed on eco-norms, and will be completed and made functional within one year’s time, the Lt Governor said. In the coming one or two years, the Islanders can witness a paradigm shift in the profile of tourism sector here.
Apart from these 4 projects which are going to unfold, the RFQ for selection of Consultant for the next 12 projects, which will cover Diglipur to Little Andaman Island has been issued. These projects will ensure the spread of tourism project from North to South. Keeping in mind Responsible Tourism Development, the A&N Administration is making every effort to extend tourist attractions in different Islands, which is currently confined to only two or three Islands, he said. 
In the coming two years, the connectivity issue will be solved, the basic infrastructure required for the tourism promotion such as air connectivity, under which the Administration has removed the Restricted Area Permit, and immigration facility has been started, by which foreign tourists are being provided Visa on arrival and e-visa to those countries with which we have reciprocal arrangements. With all these initiative in place, the Islanders will witness a better tourism profile in the coming two years’ time, the Lt. Governor added.
The Lt Governor also released a book, written by Dr. Mohd. Rehan Raza- ‘The Great Nicobar Island: India’s Southern Fortune’, which highlights the geo-strategic and geo-economic significance of Great Nicobar Island and is a rare and exclusive compilation of all the unexplored potential tourism destinations in that area.
Speaking on the occasion, the Member of Parliament, Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma remarked that the ‘Island Tourism Festival’, earlier known as ‘Islands on the March’ held at Marina Park on a small scale, where cultural programmes were presented by the local artistes, has garnered more importance with the passage of time and now has its reach across the globe. He said, the Island Tourism Festival has become the most awaited festivals by the Islanders as it offers a platform for them to join in the revelries ranging from colorful cultural programmes to exciting shows and activities. The MP suggested that a tag line/theme be created for the Island Tourism Festival each year, to showcase the rich tribes, forest, culture, tradition and heritage of the A&N Islands to the world. Apart from this, stalls highlighting the wealth of the Islands should also be included, he opined.
The MP also mentioned that the Island Tourism Festival is being watched live in over 200 countries across the world and we must make them a part of this festival by highlighting the strength of the A&N Islands, which reflects the essence of a true Mini India and communal harmony. He also suggested that rain tourism be promoted during rainy season, so as to facilitate tourism activities in the Islands throughout the year besides providing incentives to tour operators and discount for tourists so that more tourists are attracted to these Islands even in monsoon.
The MP also urged the Tourism Department to take the spirit of festivities to every nook and corners of the Islands for the benefit of the Islanders residing in far off places, so that they can get the opportunity to witness the cultural programmes by various artistes and cultural troops from mainland.       
Earlier, welcoming the gathering, the Secretary Tourism, A&N Administration, Dr. Pooja Joshi said, to make the Island Tourism Festival-2019 a more appealing and different event from the last one, a lot of thoughts and suggestions have been incorporated. She also invited everyone to come and be a part of the ten day-long celebration and make it a memorable event.
Meanwhile, the road leading to the ITF has been decked with colorful lights and the air of festivity can be seen and felt at the ITF Ground. The second day of the festival saw crowds of all ages enjoying the cultural programmes with exuberance. The traditional couture of Octave artistes of the North Eastern States, which showcased the beauty of their tradition and culture received a standing ovation from the dignitaries and the crowd while a creative presentation by Sapphire Creations, West Bengal also mesmerized the gathering. Other cultural programme included live musical orchestra presented by Avinash Social & Cultural Society followed by musical programme by BRW Musical Wing, performances by Jhumurr (Sastriya-Lok) Nitryagan, programme by Sur Sangam Cultural Forum and a dance on Bollywood songs by Kasheesh. Apart from this, stalls selling varieties of food items ranging from home made snacks to fast food and regional cuisines are a hit among the visitors. Stalls selling handicrafts items and home wares have also been set up at the ITF ground for people to check out various items.

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