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How Andhra’s business hub is becoming a travel and leisure destination

yachts sailing along Vizag coast, Photo: IANS

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Visakhapatnam, April 5 (IANS) In the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh, this coastal city discovered its new identity and is now emerging not merely as the business and technology hub but also as a travel and leisure destination.

Though in the very first year of the truncated state, cyclone Hudhud battered the city, known popularly as Vizag, it bounced back with new vigour. The rebuilt infrastructure gave a new look to the city, adjudged the third-cleanest in India last year.

Though already recognised as a key hub for being the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, the presence of a port, a steel plant and other industries, the city in the past did not get its due and was never branded properly. This was because, as people of the port city say, the focus of successive governments in undivided Andhra Pradesh was Hyderabad.

yachts sailing along Vizag coast

yachts sailing along Vizag coast, Photo: IANS

After the breaking up of Andhra Pradesh to carve out Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital in 2014, Vizag found new importance. The state government launched an initiative to develop it as the country’s Fintech hub and a centre of new-age technologies. It has hosted partnership summits here for the last three years, witnessing signing of MoUs for massive investments in the state.

The government also started working on plans to develop Vizag as a travel destination. The yachting festival held on March 28-31 brought into focus the bustling city’s huge tourism potential.

The four-day festival organised by Andhra Pradesh Tourism in association with E-Factor Adventure Tourism Pvt. Ltd, saw a fleet of plush yachts descending on the Vizag shores, for the discerning enthusiasts who love engaging with lifestyle, water and adventure.

Organised with a vision to establish and put Vizag on the marine tourism map, the festival, said to be first of its kind in India, saw yachts cruising on the azure waters of the Bay of Bengal, providing sailing enthusiasts a breathtaking view of popular beaches like RK Beach, Rishikonda, Thotlakonda and Yerada. The on-board audiences were treated with activities like swimming, snorkelling, rescue demo by the Indian Navy and adrenaline-pumping displays of fly-boarding.

yachts sailing along Vizag coast

yachts sailing along Vizag coast, Photo: IANS

In the evenings when the yachts were parked at Vizag port, the audiences were entertained with musical performances.

It was the first attempt to introduce lifestyle tourism in Vizag, a key destination on the nearly 1,000-km-long coastline of the state. The organisers sold limited tickets, priced at a steep Rs 14,500 per person per day.

“Water holiday or yachting is a Richie rich, big boy’s holiday. Typically, one hour of yachting costs Rs 1 lakh in India,” Kaushik Mukherji, principal advisor to the Andhra Pradesh Ministry of Tourism, told IANS.

He believed yachting can contribute significantly to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “Though only one percent of society can afford yachting, it has a huge margin,” he explained, claiming that on India’s east coast, Vizag is the only place which can offer this kind of holiday.

Mukherji was confident that two years down the line there will be people who will come to Vizag for water holidays. “Why do I need to go to Bali when I can do it in Vizag? The reasoning is being created.”

The yachting festival was one of the marketing techniques to brand Vizag. “Andhra Pradesh has no better tourism card than Vizag. It was never marketed earlier. Vizag was always consumed by the word of mouth. There was no draw towards it. I am changing the perceived value,” Mukherji said.

Explaining why Vizag is important, Mukherji pointed out that its beach mountains were not found anywhere else. Every brick at Thotlakonda beach is 2,500 years old. He believed a Buddhism circuit can be created here and marketed in countries like Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China and Japan, which always look for Buddhism products.

A view of the music performance in the evening at Vizag port

A view of the music performance in the evening at Vizag port, Photo: IANS

“Ten miles from where we are sitting (Vizag port) is the (Pakistani) Gazi submarine which can be one of the finest diving sites of the world. I can give the best dive into the submarine which was sunk during the 1971 war.”

Mukherji believed different products for different segments of the market could help tap the state’s immense tourism potential. He set the ball rolling a year ago with Vizag Music Festival followed by the balloon festival in Araku valley, a picturesque location about 100 km from Vizag.

“We have to be clear about who our target audience is. It’s the promise which I am selling. People buy promises, not destinations,” he added.

Tourism currently contributes seven percent of the state’s GDP, but Mukherji believes powerful tourism brands can increase this to 24-25 percent.

IANS

Tech

Western Railway uses modern technique to scan old Mumbai bridges

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Western Railway

Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) After Railway Minister Piyush Goyal cracked the whip, the Western Railway (WR) launched a safety audit of all 445 bridges on the Mumbai suburban section, deploying modern techniques to scan some of the oldest structures, an official said here on Saturday.

The first to be inspected and audited was the 98-year old Mahalaxmi road overbridge (ROB) and later the Bandra ROB, with the new time-saving technique through the “tower wagon car”.

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“The tower wagon has been designed to save inspection time to two hours against the normal four hours by conventional methods and even perform urgent repairs,” said WR spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar.

Image result for WR spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar.

Western Railways chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar

Conventionally, a long ladder was transported from Lower Parel station to the required station, shifted manually to the bridge site and only one person at a time could climb it, while clutching a load of equipment. The ladder needed to be shifted continuously for examining each girders, pillars or spans.

However, the new tower wagon allows the entire inspection team to climb to the targeted site armed with tools and machinery, and even carry out spot emergency repairs, making it a quick, safe and quality process, said Bhakar.

On the WR’s Churchgate-Virar sector, there are 29 ROBs, 110 Foot overbridges (FOBs) and four pipeline bridges, and the rest are on the Central Railway (CR), across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, catering to over eight million daily suburban commuters.

Top WR officials including General Manager A. K. Gupta, Divisional Railway Manager Sanjay Mishra, Principal Chief Engineer R. K. Meena and Chief Safety Officer Manoj Sharma were present when the inspections were carried out in the early hours on Saturday.

Image result for WR General Manager A. K. Gupta,

Western Railway top boss Western Railway GM A.K Gupta

Spelling relief, the Mahalaxmi ROB was found to be “structurally sound and in safe condition” at all its 15 girders and five spans after it was inspected in minute details by two tower wagons.

The 56-year old Bandra ROB with 13 girders and three spans was also found structurally safe and sound, the WR said.

Bouyed by the results, the WR will now carry out the safety audits of all the remaining bridges with tower wagons over the next three-four months, as resolved at a high-level meeting on July 5.

Following stringent observations by the Bombay High Court, a public uproar after the July 3 crash of a portion of the Andheri FOB which killed one woman, the beleagured WR, CR, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation along with IIT-Bombay experts launched the full-scale bridges’ audits.

Image result for July 3 crash of a portion of the Andheri FOB which killed one woman

July 3 crash of a portion of the Andheri FOB

It was decided to order repairs or reconstruct the stressed bridges on priority without procedural delays, with precedence given to the oldest structures, while ensuring complete coordination among various agencies.

The three organisations will also conduct regular monthly meetings of top officials, clear issues about designs, drawings, approvals, land issues, etc, to speed up the required works.

They would also explore the feasibility of creating a special corpus fund for the purpose of an appropriate amount, to ensure financial resources are readily available, especially for undertaking works of urgent nature or in emergencies.

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Lifestyle

30 per cent Indians planning couple trip during monsoon: Study

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Couple trip monsoon

New Delhi, July 10: With the onset of the monsoon, more and more couples are taking advantage of the pleasant weather and heading for short breaks with 30 per cent planning it with their better halves, says a study conducted by travel marketplace ixigo.  

The data reveals that 39 per cent Indians, travelling during the monsoon, are planning to travel as couples, followed by 24 per cent with family and 18 per cent solo, reads a statement.

Couples are planning short-stays that extend to about three or four days. Also, hotel searches for Goa show the maximum spike of 16 per cent from previous months, while Shillong and Guwahati follow with 11 per cent and 9 per cent spikes respectively.

goa-couple-on-beach

While about 25 per cent couples from Chennai and 18 per cent from Bangalore are booking a short vacation to Puducherry, about 14 per cent couples are travelling from Mumbai to Goa via train.

Commenting on the findings, Aloke Bajpai, ixigo CEO & Co-founder said, “With the arrival of monsoon across the country, millennial couples are now planning their bae-cations. Travel becomes far more affordable during the monsoon as it is a lean season in comparison to summer and winter.

“Major Indian airlines have announced their monsoon sales, offering big discounts on flights, reducing fares by almost 20 per cent. Goa remains to be the most popular destination showing an 8 per cent increase in in flight and 16 per cent increase in hotel searches. It is great to note, how owing to improved infrastructure and better flight connectivity, north-eastern destinations like Shillong and Guwahati are also becoming crowd favourites.”

IANS 

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Lifestyle

Why one should consider a beach holiday

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beach

New Delhi, June 30: Selecting your next destination isn’t easy and spending the month of June and July at home can never be treated as an experience. But then a beach trip can always be your escape! Right? Ditch the hills and snow when you can head out for a beach holiday.

Goa Beaches-wefornews

Jayant Singh, Founder and Managing Director, Karma Hospitality and Richa Khurana Singh, Travel Expert, share some insights why a beach holiday is the best way to refresh the mind.

* Beauty and the beach: The coming months are a good escape to beaches for people who want to travel and have an adventure at the same time. The temperature is not so hot and days are also the longest, which gives you more time to explore and party. The beauty of the beaches relaxes you and at the same time the rapids give the best adrenaline rush.

goa-nightlife

* Enjoy the festivities and the rains: June brings out the unseen views of beaches – especially Goa – that are usually absent during the summers. The beginning of the monsoon gives relief from the humid climate and a wave of new fresh air.

* Adventure be your saviour: It is not just about the beauty of the sea, but there is much more beyond that parties and beaches. June is the best time to enjoy for adventure lovers and they can enjoy the different water sports like jet skiing, water skiing, paragliding, scuba diving. Also, the beginners training for scuba diving can best learn in these months.

 jet skiing

* Affordable accommodation: October-January are the months when the tourist traction is huge for beach areas, but from June-September the areas are less occupied and you don’t have to spend much on travel and stay. Fares are affordable for luxury resorts and you can book your fairies and adventures at a low cost.

IANS

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