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At lighthouse fest in Goa, Centre guides investments to India’s new tourism hubs – Times of India

PANAJI: Amusement parks and cafes will be among the attractions illuminating India’s lighthouses as new tourist hubs, a central minister has told TOI. In an exclusive interaction with the newspaper, Union minister for ports, shipping and waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Connectivity is the number one priority.”
India’s first lighthouse festival was held over the weekend in Goa’s Aguada. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X, “Glad to see growing enthusiasm towards lighthouses as key tourist spots.”
As for Sonowal, he said, “Local cuisines and culture will be among the elements incorporated into the plan to make lighthouses the most attractive tourist destinations.”
The Union ministry of ports, shipping and waterways, which organised the festival, wants to pull in private investment to 75 lighthouses across India. During the festival, the ministry held deliberations with travel and tour operators from all over the country to explore their interest in promoting lighthouse tours.
Sonowal said that the ministry has already identified the lighthouses to be taken up for development as tourist hubs in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Odisha, and West Bengal. He said work to implement the project has covered 21 lighthouses and will be soon completed at the remaining sites.
Tour operators can benefit from lighthouse push: Min
Cultural and heritage concerns will be factored in when the lighthouses are chosen for development, Sonowal said. Lighthouses come under the jurisdiction of the director general of lighthouses and lightships, which reports to the shipping ministry. “We had a very important discussion with tour and travel operators, of whom more than 35 were from Goa,” Sonowal said. “The level of interest they have demonstrated is heartening.
If tour and travel operators come forward to take part and promote lighthouses in the country as part of this policy and programme, I believe they can take advantage of it.” The minister added, “We want to promote the potential of tourism through lighthouses by deploying the publicprivate partnership model.” Sonowal also announced that his ministry is working to encourage river cruises, coastal cruises, and ocean cruises as part of an effort to develop domestic and international tourism. He said that an Italian cruise operator, Costa Cruise, will start operations in November, offering trips to Mumbai, Cochin, Goa, and Lakshadweep Islands. Costa Cruise’s vessel MV Costa Serena has declared the voyage dates for November and December as part of the India itinerary.

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