Why not a Separate Tourism Corporation?
By Zubair Ahmed
Tourism has to be the mainstay of Andaman and
Nicobar Islands. With large number of outstanding sandy, safe and unexplored beaches, beautiful meandering mangrove creeks, lush green forests and variety of flora, fauna, tropical forests and coral reefs and many more unique tourist attractions, the Island needs a separate tourism corporation to tap the immense potential, which is not possible by government departments.
However, it is learnt that the Planning Commission has not given the green signal for setting up of a separate corporation when ANIIDCO is already there.
An independent corporation with hardcore professionals at the helm can function without the inherent weaknesses of a government department. The strategy mentioned in the tourism policy can be easily achieved if it is handled by a separate corporation.
Single window system has been harped in the policy document, to facilitate clearances for tourism related projects and to provide tourism related information. However, the administration has miserably failed on this aspect as entrepreneurs can be seen running from pillar to post to get the requisite permissions and clearances. When a high profile team of top companies including the Oberoi, DLF and Hilton visited the
Islands a couple of years back, the only query they had put across was about the support they might be getting from the administration. However, the authorities were non-committal about any support. The response irked them and they reacted that why should they invest if the state is not willing to extend any support. The Country Head of Hilton, which has been planning to set up about 22 hotels throughout , had quipped that they get red carpet welcome in all states, whereas, the administration was non-committal about environmental clearances and other logistic support. India
Even Taj group had to scuttle from one end to another to get the proposal through, which shows our commitment.
After 65 years, it would be a Herculean task to change the mindset of government authorities who have been trained to block information as well as create hurdles. A look at the queries of the investors and the response will reveal a lot about the indifferent attitude. Moreover, ANIIDCO too is not an exception in this case.
Tourism to really take off without the indefinite delays, it needs to be freed from the clutches of the government and a separate corporation is formed.