Kerala, the ‘Gods Own Country’ well entrenched on the tourism map of the world has a little competition coming up – from Andhra Pradesh’s Konaseema, a clutch of islets and islands between Godavari River and the Bay of Bengal.
Pristine, unexplored beaches, waterways, greenery – with all shades of green from light green to dark owing to the predominance of thick coconut and mango groves, sugarcane, and paddy fields – Konaseema presents a picturesque tourism potential that is yet largely untapped.
Eager to exploit the potential as an engine of economic growth of the already prosperous region is the first collector of the new district that was carved out last month, Himanshu Shukla.
Hitting the ground running from the moment he took over as the first collector of the district last month, this former MD of Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation rolled out a detailed plan to exploit the full tourism potential of the region that boasts of scenic beauty, beaches, river, and islands that offer a wholesome tourism experience for the entire family.
Adding more rooms to the existing three resorts, and developing a cluster of resorts, rank high on the priority of the plan to push tourism. “We want to offer weekend getaways to people from different places of Andhra Pradesh (like Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Vijag and Kolkata) to begin with as I don’t have large capacities at present,” Shukla said and added people from other places were welcome too.
But for that hospitality capacity must be increased. At present, the region has three big resorts and a capacity of 200 rooms. By next year, 50 more rooms would be added, Shukla said.
These weekend getaways, marketed as family destinations, will have water parks in the vicinity for the children to enjoy as the elders take rest. “A water park will be coming up near the resort at Sakhinetipalli, next to Antarvedi temple. This will be the area where a cluster of resorts are being planned to augment hospitality capacity,” Shukla said.
Another stream of tourism that Konaseema would be aggressively marketing would be river-based tourism. “We have identified Pasarlapudi, Aduru and Odalarevu, which is a navigable and where there is some infrastructure already, and more will be added. Here boats would be roaming around offering joyrides to people and take them up to the mouth of the Godavari River and bring them back,” he said.
“The area is so scenic, that we do not have to do anything. It is just sitting there and all that the tourists and picknickers need to do is to get onto a boat and move around,” Shukla said.
Another strength of river-based tourism will be between Yanam, the easternmost boundary of Konaseema to Kotipalli on the north. And the deep waters in this stretch of Godavari allows us to ply ferries, both as a means of transport and for tourist rides.
But since the region cannot be easily accessible by road, the Konaseema chief administrator has tied up with a Heli tourism company to include the district on its route. So, Heli tourism will soon start, and there are people who can easily afford the service in the state. Only they are now not having many options.
“The route which the Heli tourism company has identified is Vijag, Konaseema, Vijayawada, Prakasam, and Tirupati,” Shukla said. “Since I cannot have an airport, this Helicopter service will greatly facilitate the commute of tourists from Vijag and Vijayawada and I had convinced the Heli tourism company to include Konaseema in its route,” the collector said.
This Helicopter service will be for the high-end tourists who can spend Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 on chopper ride and there are many who would be eager to hop onto it. For such clientele, already there is Sarovar Portico, among the best resorts in the country, at Dindi some 20 km from Amalapauram, the headquarters of Konaseema district.
Often one needs a huge recommendation from the higher ups for a room at this resort, which is almost always full. This resort boasts of Brazilian lily’s waiting for you in little ponds. They have taken these Lilly’s from the Amazon rain forest, a media friend from Amalapuram said.
“They have just 50 rooms. So, I do believe sifarish is needed to get a room there. But if they are full, even a sifarish may not work,” the media friend added. ]
(Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi is a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political issues and takes a keen interest in sports as well. He has worked with prominent news organisations.)
first published:May 18, 2022, 4:45 p.m.