Road ahead: How AP can become tourism hub of India
Large-scale involvement of the pvt sector; Investment in infra; Granting infrastructure status to tourism sector, organising human resource development programmes are key to tap the huge tourism potential in AP
Wildlife is an integral part of Andhra Pradesh's tourist package. Visakhapatnam district in AP is nestled among the hills of the Eastern Ghats and faces the Bay of Bengal. The journey to Araku from Visakhapatnam through the ghats, with dense forest on either side, is picturesque
Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh lies in the South-Eastern region of India. The State has a wide array of ancient sculptured temples, scenic hill ranges, unexplored forests and endless beaches. The wild life, caves and museums continue to fascinate visitors over the years.
Tourists will never feel tired of exploring the region due to the varied number of exciting cultures, cuisines, art, places and more that remain to be seen. The place holds so much importance that it can be even found being mentioned in 800 BC Sanskrit Epics such as Aitareya Brahmana and Mahabharata. The native language in Andhra Pradesh is 'Telugu.' It is often associated with the Early Cholas dynasty.
History is proof that Andhra Pradesh also came under the rule of the Maurya Empire, the Ikshvaku Dynasty, Pallava, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and later Cholas. Each of these rulers has left some part of theirs or another in the beautiful State of Andhra, resulting in endless places to visit in Andhra Pradesh that are just waiting to be explored thanks to Andhra Pradesh's tourism department, visitors are made increasingly aware of the region's rich natural resources, temples, and rivers.
Andhra Pradesh is home to many pilgrim centres. Among the tourists who visit the state, a major chunk head to Tirupati for darshan of Lord Sri Venkateshwara. Other Hindu pilgrim spots include the Sri Kalahasti temple, an ancient site of religious significance; the Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada; the Satyanarayana Swamy temple in Annavaram; and the Mallikarjuna Swamy, the Mahanandi, and Ahobilam temples located within the dense Nallamala forest in Kurnool district. The State has numerous Buddhist centres at Amaravathi, Bhattiprole and Nagarjuna Konda in Guntur district and Ghantasala in Krishna district. The Durgah in Kadapa and the Mary Matha Church in Vijayawada are the well-known Muslim and Christian pilgrim centres in the State.
Wildlife is an integral part of Andhra Pradesh's tourist package. Visakhapatnam district in AP is nestled among the hills of the Eastern Ghats and faces the Bay of Bengal. The journey to Araku from Visakhapatnam through the ghats, with dense forest on either side, is picturesque. The scenic Araku valley has breathtaking waterfalls and the tribal arts enthrall the tourists. Borra caves, the one-million-old rock formations, are considered the most marvelous geological formations in Asia. The Maredumilli and Rampachodavaram hill stations, and the Coringa and the Papikondalu forests in East Godavari district are also favourite hotspots of tourists. Papikondalu, in particular, can rival Kerala if house boats are pressed into service, as the area is no less picturesque in comparison.
In 2019, the domestic tourists arriving to the state of Andhra Pradesh accounted for approximately 237 million, while the foreign tourist arrivals accounted for over 0.28 million.
Andhra Pradesh has a great potential to rock as a tourist destination, yet, it has miserably failed in doing so except in the numbers of religious tourism. The majority of the tourists to the state visit the Tirupati temple in Chittoor district. Less than 20 per cent of the domestic tourists visit other tourist destinations in the State despite the fascinating attractions like endless beaches, picturesque hill stations unexplored forests, wildlife sanctuaries, ancient sculptured temples and Buddhist centres.
However, beyond a point, other destinations are in position to attract tourists. From the sea to the forests and hills of the hinterland should be exploited to the full potential in this regard. Talakona in Rayalaseema, Horsley Hills near Madanapalli, Annavaram, Dindi and Paderu areas in and around Godavari districts and Araku, Simhachalam, Arasavilli and Srikurmam areas potential must also be tapped with greater publicity and better facilities.
What the industry needs
Though the government has initiated a slew of measures to promote tourism, fate of some of the multi-million tourism projects is in limbo according to certain industry sources. Apprehensions are being expressed about whether these projects would take off at all, since granting of the infrastructure status to the tourism sector is still pending.
The industry needs infrastructure status without which the new tourism projects cannot be taken up. This is because the tourism industry is treated on par with real estate, constraining banks from giving loans beyond a certain limit. If the government grants infrastructure status, it will enable faster financial closure of the projects and will enable developers to get smoother access to loans from financial institutions, and banks in particular.
Above all, the AP Tourism Development Corporation, in coordination with the state government, has to organise travel and tourism expos in different parts of the country to create awareness among the general public about the various tourist destinations in AP.
In order to tap the huge tourism potential in AP, the government has to lay emphasis on the following areas: large-scale involvement of the private sector at the strategic planning stage along with the public-sector and government bodies; large-scale investment in infrastructure; granting infrastructure status to tourism sector, and human resource development programmes through active participation of the private sector. Implementation of these measures will help in generating employment opportunities besides increasing the revenue to the state government considerably.