Lakshadweep, known for its stunning beaches, has struggled as a tourism destination thanks to cumbersome procedures to obtain entry permits and poor air connectivity. Previously, travellers had to go through a time-consuming offline process to pay a fee of ₹200 for e-permits. While the application process for e-permits is now online, the limited number of flights and sub-standard accommodation facilities have played spoilsport with the islands’ tourist arrivals. However, all these things are going to change, and the Centre’s new initiatives to boost Lakshadweep‘s infrastructure are likely to give a shot in the arm to the region’s tourism industry.
Here’s how the Lakshadweep administration is trying to make the islands a tourism hotspot.
Introduction of e permits:
The administration has simplified the entry permit process for island travel by introducing digital e-permits. Previously, obtaining a permit involved bank payment and paperwork, but now tourists can easily apply online and receive their e-permits within a day or two, making the process much more convenient.
Improving air connectivity:
Alliance Air’s flights, the sole airline operating in the region, are sold out until March, reflecting the poor state of air connectivity to the islands. Currently, Alliance Air operates a 70-seater turboprop ATR-72 daily to Lakshadweep and in comparison, there are about 60 weekly flights to the Maldives from various Indian cities. However, the airline is now considering increasing its fleet.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet has also announced that it is launching flights to Lakshadweep.
Ajay Singh, Spicejet chief, told shareholders on Wednesday that the airline has exclusive rights under the government’s regional connectivity scheme for Lakshadweep, and will soon launch its air services to the union territory.
Further, India is now planning to develop a new airfield at the Minicoy Islands there that would be capable of operating military aircraft, including fighter jets, along with commercial ones.
There is only one airstrip in the island territory at the moment, which is in Agatti and it can also limit the types of aircraft. The proposal for the development of a new airport and extending the present facilities has been revived recently.
Speaking to the Times of India, Lakshadweep additional DM Giri Sankar said, “The government, in addition to expanding the existing Agatti airport (runway), is also planning a greenfield airport at Minicoy for A320/B737 type of operations. The existing Agatti runway is proposed to be expanded towards its north side. The shoulder is proposed to be expanded to handle bigger planes. There will be sea platforms.” A B737/A320 can seat up to 189 passengers in an all-economy configuration.
Promoting Lakshadweep Tourism
EaseMyTrip has introduced Lakshadweep as a premier destination, on par with international favourites, and planning to ally with Lakshadweep Tourism soon to promote the destination.
Speaking about the initiative, Prashant Pitti, Co-founder, EaseMyTrip, said ‘We have introduced enticing packages, crafted to elevate travel experience and help our customers discover the alluring landscapes of Lakshadweep like never before.’
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