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G Kishan Rao, Director, Department of TourismDespite the fact that tourism plays an important role in filling up the State's coffers, this sector has been neglected over the years. However the Department of Tourism has been evincing keen interest in developing the tourism potential to the hilt and had embarked upon several proposals. A significant effort is being made by the department now to showcase the state's tourism attractions, culture and cuisine by organising road shows and heritage walks, disseminating information through books and literature to the potential tourists and also setting up of information centres across India besides developing tourism infrastructure.

Tourism Department has some grand plans in the next twenty years and is working towards achieving the goal set by the 'Vision 2020' document which had predicted a growth rate of 27% for the tourism sector. G Kishan Rao, Director, Department of Tourism spent some time with and spoke in detail about the department's plans in developing the tourism sector in Andhra Pradesh.

Tourism is evolving as an important sector of development today. And the Government of Andhra Pradesh along with Tourism Department has outlined various programmes for the development of tourism. Can you tell us about some of the major steps taken by the Tourism Department to attract tourists in Andhra Pradesh?

The government of Andhra Pradesh is giving utmost importance to tourism for the overall development of the state. It believes that with meagre investment, lot of money can be generated through tourism. We have many plans to make Hyderabad as one of the favourite tourist destinations in India. There will be a floating restaurant in the Hussain Sagar lake with dining halls and cultural decks for performances. NTR Gardens will be one of the major tourist spots of the city. It will house a rock garden and also an Imax theatre which will be a centre for space education and entertainment.

Along the Necklace Road, we are planning spectacular 'laser and music' show which will come up very shortly. A bird park is going to come up in 20 hectares of land at the Naya Qila near Golconda fort, which will house various birds of different species. Apart from these, we are also planning shopping malls in Hyderabad and Vizag, Visitor's zone in Tirupathi (near the foothills of Tirumala) which will have religious baseExhibiting AP's rich cultured theme parks, aerial tramway to Tirumala, food court and entertainment centre, and 'Urban Hatts' in Tirupathi and Vizag.

There are many renowned Buddhist sites in AP and we are renovating some of them like Bavikonda and Thotlakonda near Vizag. Creation of water sports facilities in Vizag, Vijayawada and Hussain Sagar Lake are also on the anvil. Disney land in Hyderabad is also in the pipeline and we are looking for some private investment. Chippada located at the meeting point of River Gosthani with the Bay of Bengal will soon turn into a resort scape. The proposed resort township will consist of beach clubs, golf course, hotels, cultural village, public parks, canals, swimming pools etc. We are also taking up the conservation works of the historical monuments like Charkaman, where the conservation work is in the final stages.

As the department is having some great plans for the development of tourism sector, there could be a lot of tourist inflow into the state. But what are the facilities that the tourism department is going to provide for the tourists so that they can return home without any grouse?

First of all, we are renovating our guesthouses by converting them into 3 star hotels with all kinds of facilities. We are providing new buses to the tourist spots for easy travelling and also improving the parking space available for the vehicles. The government has started new international flights connecting Hyderabad with different foreign countries. So automatically tourist inflow into the state will be high. We are training rickshaw and taxi drivers to be friendly with the tourists. We are also conducting special training programmes for the tourist guides. Special tourism police force has been appointed for the guidance and security of the tourists.

G Kishan Rao with Dr C Narayan ReddyApart from these, we are organising heritage walks, and conducting various festivals like Deccan festival, Kakatiya festival, Vijayanagara festival, Lumbini festival and Heritage festival to provide a glimpse of our culture and heritage to the foreigners. We are also celebrating 25th November as the 'Andhra Pradesh Tourism Day' for highlighting tourism activity in the state. The Tourism Department has established tourist information centres in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore to provide detailed information about Andhra Pradesh tourism.

The department is attaching lot of importance to eco-tourism. What exactly is eco-tourism? And what are the projects, which you are covering under eco-tourism concept?

Andhra Pradesh encompasses wide variety of wildlife and natural beauty. It is dotted with diverse landscapes - from a lush coastal area to a dry deciduous forest to a mangrove belt. The state is home to India's largest tiger reserve, in the Nallamalai forest. The Godavari river delta is famous for reptiles like the saltwater crocodile, fishing cats and other exotic animals. India's largest pelican refuge at Kolleru Lake, which is also a haven for migrating birds, is an important tourist site of AP. Apart from these, we have number of wild life sanctuaries and resorts. Keeping in mind the rich natural habitat of our state, we evolved the concept of eco-tourism. We want to beautify the surroundings of an area without disturbing its natural habitat. You can take the example of Shilparamam, the crafts village of Hyderabad, where we have converted it into a tourist spot without touching the natural habitat. We have not moved even the rocks present there.

We have identified some major wild life sanctuaries with the help of forest department to give boost to the eco-tourism. Araku valley near Vizag, Horseley Hills in Chittor, Tirupathi hills, Nagarjuna Sagar, Srisailam, Nelapattu near Nellore, Eturunagaram near Warangal etc are some of them taken up under the eco-tourism project. We are providing amenities for the comfort of the tourists in these areas.

What is the growth rate of tourism sector in Andhra Pradesh at present?

Highlighting nature: Eco-TourismAndhra Pradesh Vision 2020 document gives lot of importance to the tourism sector. The document has projected that 25 million foreign tourists will visit the State by the year 2020, while 66 million domestic tourists will also head towards the State. Every year, 4 crore 37 lakh people visit the state of Andhra Pradesh, which is only next to Uttar Pradesh in terms of tourist inflow. Visit of foreign tourists to Andhra Pradesh is also quite high at present and in the next few years by 2003, we are expecting a growth rate of 2-3% in the tourism sector.

The department has started a paying guest accommodation scheme to facilitate tourists to stay in a home like environment. And many people are showing enthusiasm towards this scheme. Can you just tell us about the procedure for becoming member of the paying guest accommodation scheme?

Andhra Pradesh believes in the principle of 'Athithi Devo Bhava' where a guest is treated as a god. To keep up that spirit, the department is seeking the cooperation of people with varied socio-linguistic background and having the necessary infrastructure to make this concept a success. The concept provides us an opportunity to showcase to the international community the warmth that is there with Indians in general and the Andhras in particular that in turn helps promoting AP as the most sought after and a warm tourist destination in the South.

The department has specified a number of factors for the success of the concept. They are- The premises must be in a good locality, the owner must stay within the premises, accommodation must not be more than five rooms with 10 beds, and the host will have to maintain a register of arrival and departure of guests. A committee will inspect the accommodation before it is registered under the scheme. Payment for accommodation, breakfast and use of other facilities will be according to the rates approved by the Department of Tourism.

Click here If a foreign guest stays, the host has to fill in form `C' and submit the same to the nearest police station. The owners have to send monthly reports on guests to the Director of Tourism, Hyderabad. They are also encouraged to attract guests to their houses. A copy of the application to become member of this scheme can be had from the Secretary (Tourism), Youth Advancement, Tourism & Culture Department, 3rd Floor, A-Block, Secretariat, Hyderabad or from the Director, Department of Tourism, Tank Bund Road, Hyderabad. Or log on to (for online application).

How many members have taken membership till now?

We have received thirty-seven applications under paying guest accommodation scheme. But we have short listed only 12 homes on the basis of location and infrastructure available there.

Some NGO's are making hue and cry over the tourism projects taken up along the Hussain Sagar Lake. They allege that the tourism department is spoiling the natural beauty of the lake by constructing new projects along the lake. What is your reaction to such kind of charges?

These are baseless charges. The Government is very keen to take care of the lake's natural beauty. Infact, the department has protected the lake from illegal encroachments by constructing the Necklace road along the lake, which is now a major spot for organising cultural festivals. I don't want to comment much about this since the matter is sub judice.

Government is giving utmost priority to tourism sector for generating employment. In what way the tourism sector generates employment?

The tourism sector does not generate employment directly, but it provides employment indirectly. When a place with the tourist potential develops, there will be a spurt in demand for hotels, taxis, shopping etc. So the concept is very simple and everyone is going to be benefited by this.

Address: Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Tank Bund Road, Hyderabad-500 063. Phone: 345 4550. Fax: 345 3109. Website:

AP Tourism Information Centres across India

New Delhi
Address: AP Tourism Information Centre, AP Bhavan, Ashoka Road- New Delhi-110 001. Phone: 011-338 1293

Address: AP Tourism Information Centre, 210, Kanishka Shopping Plaza, 19, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110 001. Phone: 011-336 6328

Address: AP Tourism Information Centre, General Assurance Building, DN Road, Opp. Handloom House, Mumbai. Phone: 022-208 2846

Address: AP Tourism Information Centre, Indian Chambers Building, II Floor, No. 6 Explanede, Chennai

Address: AP Tourism Information Centre, 33, Swiss Complex, Races Course Road, Bangalore-560 001. Phone: 080-238 3361, 238 3362

- MAR Fareed
Photographs courtesy: Tourism Department
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