In an interview, Praful Patel, administrator for Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli explains why these territories will emerge as new tourist and investment destinations.
The economy has not recovered but are you seeing investment interest?
For tourism we have floated a RFP (request for proposal) recently for setting up a boutique hotel. We had a meeting of hoteliers recently and we are also proposing to float a bid on PPP (public-private partnership) basis to set up a luxury five star hotel in Diu. Certain potential investors like Mahindras, Hyatt Group and hotel chains like Coconut Lagoon have shown interest in it. So I am confident that once the bid is floated in the next couple of months, it will see a lot of investor interest. Apart from this there are 4000 fishermen in Diu. Most of the catch is sent to Gujarat for exports. In fisheries sector we are trying to modernize the two processing units currently in Diu and also trying to come up with a plan to add value to the catch.
What is the government doing to attract investments?
For industrial investment in Silvassa, we have brought out an investment policy in January and an investment promotion scheme a few months ago. The crux of the policy and scheme is to provide subsidy to SME (small and medium enterprises), to support interest subsidy in the textile sector, incentives for encouraging local employment. Apart from this we are giving some support for skill development in private sector if someone wants to set up a skill development institute. We have also taken several measures on ease of doing business in the territory which include simplification of regulatory environment. We have also set up an investment promotion council which has heads of all the departments as members to track approved investment proposals and hand hold investors.
Has this helped in getting investors?
In the last three months in Silvassa we have seen proposals of Rs 350 crore which have been given in principle approvals and in Daman we have seen proposals of Rs 50 crore. I am confident that there will be an increase in investments in the coming months.
How is tourism in Diu this year?
We have given a big push in branding of Diu as a destination for the more eclectic traveller. In January, we launched a national branding campaign and we branded Diu as Isle of Calm. We have captured the essence of the place. Because in spite of its pristine beauty it was not in the mindscape of travellers even in Mumbai. So we wanted to diversify tourist arrival base, moving away from just the Gujarati traveller and last year the tourist arrival in Diu was about 17 lakh and this year the expectation is over 25 lakh. The branding campaign has been the key reason for this rise.
What is the government doing to promote tourism in Diu this year?
The main challenge that we faced was of connectivity to Diu. Till now we had just one Jet Airways operating a flight in Diu. Now we have signed an agreement with Air India to start operating another flight between Bombay and Diu on a fixed fare agreement on a viability gap funding model. We are also launching a festival in Diu called Festa Di Diu which spans over a time of two and half months from December