Centre aims to draw 25 lakh tourists to lighthouses in next five years, says Sonowal

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 11 (PTI) Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday said the central government is planning to attract 25 lakh tourists to lighthouses in the country in the next five years, emphasising its plan to transform these iconic maritime structures into vibrant tourists hotspots.

Speaking to the media after inspecting the Vizhinjam lighthouse and chairing a stakeholders' meeting to boost Lighthouse Tourism in India, the minister said the number of tourists visiting these structures in the country was about 3.5 lakh prior to 2014, and after the Modi government's initiatives to promote lighthouse tourism, the numbers rose to 17 lakh.

"In India, we have 203 lighthouses, and after a detailed survey, we have already developed 75 lighthouses across the country. We are going to develop all the remaining lighthouses to make centres of attraction for tourists," Sonowal said.

The Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways said that as Kovalam near Vizhinjam is a big centre of tourist attraction, both for domestic and international tourists, "we are going to develop the Vizhinjam lighthouse into a major centre of attraction, and we will also see how we can integrate and link tourists coming to Kovalam with this." "The stakeholders' meeting was an attempt to further act to transform the Vizhinjam lighthouse into a major tourist destination with a unique light-and-sound show," he said.

Earlier, at the stakeholders' meeting, the minister said more than 500,000 tourists visited lighthouses between April and June 2024, validating Prime Minister Modi's vision of transforming these iconic maritime structures into vibrant tourist hotspots.

Tourist attractions, such as the new sound-and-light show at Vizhinjam, will be developed with facilities considering every aspect of convenience, especially for the elderly and people with disablities, he added.

Organised by the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships, an organisation under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), the stakeholders' meeting was aimed at strategising on how to showcase the unique tourism potential of lighthouses as confluences of historical and cultural significance as well as scenic beauty.

The meeting also worked on forging collaborations and partnerships among government bodies, tourism agencies, local communities, and private sector stakeholders in promoting lighthouses as tourist attractions.

It also sought to highlight the potential economic benefits for local communities through increased tourism, identify the potential challenges and barriers to promoting lighthouse tourism and motivate stakeholders by underscoring the importance and impact of their contributions.

Sonowal said the ministry remains committed to revitalising lighthouses for economic development and the celebration of the cultural heritage of India's coastline. PTI KPK TGB TGB ANE