December 18, 2023: Nestled in the heart of the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands beckon as an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of mainland life. With their pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant marine life, these islands are a haven of serenity and beauty. The recent announcement by the local government to open up the enchanting Aves Island for tourists is poised to further elevate the appeal of these paradisiacal destinations.
Unlocking Aves Island’s Charm
In a strategic move to boost tourism in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the local administration has unveiled plans to permit tourist visits to the captivating Aves Island in the North and Middle Andaman district. The proposal includes the establishment of a five-star eco-tourism resort through a public-private partnership, envisioning Aves Island as a sought-after tourist hotspot.
What to Expect
As per reports, the local government intends to lease a 2.75-hectare land parcel to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited (ANIIDCO) under a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer (DBFOT) arrangement. The envisioned 50-room, five-star ecotourism resort on Aves Island is set to feature a wellness centre, scuba diving facilities, game fishing opportunities, forest hikes, nature camping, and a shopping area showcasing locally crafted souvenirs.
Nandini Paliwal, Managing Director of ANIIDCO, expressed confidence in the collaboration with the private sector, stating, “We are confident that with the active collaboration of the private sector, the projects proposed to be implemented in PPP mode will succeed in bringing world-class sustainable tourism infrastructure and putting Andaman and Nicobar Islands on the global tourism circuit.”
Additionally, the administration has outlined a comprehensive Project Information Memorandum (PIM) for the development of 14 additional tourist destinations, including Lalaji Bay beach at Long Island, Ross-Smith Island, and Shaheed Dweep, spanning North Andaman, Middle Andaman, and South Andaman. This initiative aims to position the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as premier global tourist destinations.
Discovering Pristine Aves
Situated in the North and Middle Andaman’s Mayabunder tehsil, Aves Island is an integral part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ Indian union territory. Nicknamed Coconut Island for its lush coconut plantation, Aves Island remains uninhabited and off-limits to tourists. Plans for its transformation include developing activities like scuba diving to complement its two kilometers of unspoiled coastline, dense forests, and coconut plantations.
The island features a distinctive red and white lighthouse erected in 2008, adding to its allure. However, it currently stands unmanned.
Over the years, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have undergone significant transformations in their approach to tourism. Earlier restrictions, such as the need for a tribal pass for non-islanders to access areas like the Great Nicobar, have been relaxed, providing tourists with more opportunities to explore the islands’ beauty.
In a bid to revolutionize travel experiences, a draft caravan tourism policy was introduced in 2023. This initiative focuses on creating distinctive and unforgettable travel experiences, injecting new vitality into the islands’ tourism sector.
A Note of Caution
While the islands are a treasure trove of biodiversity and home to some of the world’s oldest indigenous tribes, experts have cautioned against the perils of excessive tourism in environmentally sensitive areas like the Andaman Islands. Advocating for community-based tourism, these experts suggest engaging with locals and choosing alternative accommodations like staying with local families to promote sustainable tourism.
For wildlife enthusiasts, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands present a haven of diverse ecosystems, from captivating coral reefs beneath the sea to unique terrestrial flora and fauna. Barren Island, home to India’s only live volcano, stands as a testament to the islands’ natural wonders.
How to Reach
Travelers can conveniently book flights to the Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair from major Indian cities. Alternatively, passenger ships and ferries operate from Chennai, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam to Port Blair, providing a scenic journey, albeit a longer one. For exploring different islands within the archipelago, inter-island ferries are available, and advance ticket bookings are advisable, especially during peak tourist season.
To reach Aves Island, a short 20-minute dinghy ride from the Mayabunder jetty awaits. Travelers can embark on a road journey from Port Blair to Mayabunder and then transfer to a mechanized boat for the final leg to the island’s shore. Embrace the allure of Aves Island and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where nature’s wonders unfold at every turn.