Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman (L) (ANI Photo/Ayush Sharma) and an aerial view of one of the pristine beaches in India’s Lakshadweep islands that was posted by prime minister Narendra Modi on his X account after a visit there in January, 2024. (ANI Photo)
THE Indian government will make significant investment in the country’s tourism sector, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday (1) said while presenting the pre-election interim budget.
She said projects for tourism will be taken up at islands, including Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea. She added tourism, including spiritual tourism, has massive opportunities and that states will be encouraged to take up iconic tourist spots and develop them.
The minister said Lakshadweep, which is a Union Territory or administered by the federal government, will get undivided focus from the government which will improve its tourism infrastructure.
Lakshadweep recently came to the headlines after prime minister Narendra Modi visited there and promoted it on social media, drawing ire of some officials of the government of the maritime neighbour of the Maldives, located around 750 kilometres from the Lakshadweep. The matter exploded as several Indians, including celebrities and common people, came to the defence of Lakshadweep and there were calls for boycotting the archipelago which is visited by Indians in large numbers.
Days after Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep in January and the controversy involving the Maldives, the Business Today reported that the Indian government was proceeding with the idea of constructing a new airport in the Minicoy Island of Lakshadweep, which will accommodate both civilian and military aircraft. It will also enhance India’s surveillance capabilities in the Arabian Sea region.
Besides, India’s Tata Group also has plans to make two resorts on the islands of Suheli and Kadmat in Lakshadweep operational in 2026.
Aerial connectivity to the island chain also received a major boost last month as Alliance Air, the only airline to operate to Lakshadweep, started an additional flight from the southern state of Kerala.
Sitharaman emphasised on tourism in 2023 budget
The Indian government has been putting emphasis on tourism for some time now. In her previous budget in 2023, which was the current government’s final full-fledged budget before the general elections due this year, Sitharaman had announced that 50 destinations will be developed as a ‘complete package of tourism’. She had said that the destinations would be picked through challenge mode, using an integrated and innovative approach.
For these selected destinations, information will be made available through an app on their physical and virtual connectivity; tourist guides; food streets and tourist security and other aspects of the visitor experience.
The announcements bode well for the hospitality industry with industry captains and bodies saying that if properly implemented, they would make the tourists’ experience pleasant and wholesome.