Port Blair, Oct 4 (PTI) With the Andaman and Nicobar Islands' administration opening up some parts of the archipelago for tourism after a gap of six months, stakeholders in the industry are looking forward to Durga Puja for the revival of the sector on which a large number of people in the Union territory depend for livelihood.
The Union territory has been reporting fewer COVID-19 cases of late. It has registered 3,868 infections so far, of which 173 are active cases, health officials said.
According to some estimates, a loss of Rs 8,000 crore has been recorded and 35,000 families have been directly or indirectly affected due to the suspension of tourism activities in the islands from March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even though the administration has permitted some tourism activities in South Andaman district, barring the Little Andaman Island, from World Tourism Day on September 27 and said it will consider opening up more islands in a phased manner as part of the Centre's 'Unlock' measures, the archipelago has hardly seen any visitor.
'We are hardly receiving any tourists since the reopening of the sector. But we hope to get some bookings during the upcoming Durga Puja festive season. However, there are only two daily flights from Kolkata to Port Blair. The frequency needs to be increased,' Robert Johnson, the director of Mini India, a travel company, told PTI on Sunday.
A large number of people from West Bengal used to visit the tropical destination during the Durga Puja holidays in the pre-COVID times.
The five-day Durga Puja festivities are scheduled to begin on October 22 this year.
In the first phase of the resumption of tourism activities in the archipelago, the Union territory administration has allowed the reopening of beaches, museums and light and sound show at the Cellular Jail, besides permitting water sports, boat rides and snorkelling.
Recommencement of other activities like scuba diving, sea walk and parasailing will be considered in subsequent phases, sources said.
The Department of Tourism has issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for restarting these activities, asking all the stakeholders to follow it. PTI COR ACD ACD