Save Lakshadweep from mass tourism

Jan 09, 2024 10:20 PM IST

Lakshadweep is no doubt awesome. However, its fragile ecology and limited resources are limitations when it comes to mass tourism

There is a buzz around Lakshadweep after the Prime Minister’s visit there and the unsavory comments made by several Maldivian politicians, including ministers. As Delhi-Malle develops, attempts are being made to turn the Lakshadweep Islands into a high-end beach tourism destination, an alternative to the Maldives. Lakshadweep is undeniably great: it has spacious sandy beaches and coral reefs and offers water sports such as diving and windsurfing. However, its fragile ecology and limited resources are limitations when it comes to mass tourism. Any plan to turn it into a destination to rival the Maldives would need a massive overhaul of the infrastructure currently designed to serve its 60,000-plus locals.

PREMIUM
The Maldives consistently attracts higher tourism volumes, especially from India, compared to the relatively modest tourism activity in Lakshadweep. (file)

Lakshadweep, which consists of about 36 islands and some atolls, reefs and sandbanks, is severely water-stressed – water sources are mostly available on the 10 inhabited islands – and depends on diesel power plants for electricity, with diesel supplied from mainland India . Tourism has not grown significantly as it is very capital intensive. The islands have a relatively stable local economy that depends on coconuts and fishing—the coconut economy is linked to the mainland, while the availability of tuna in the surrounding waters has allowed the island to engage in fish exports. The islands could do with a major improvement in transport and communications – more flights, ships, ferries and accessible helicopter services, especially – as the islanders, who are linguistically and culturally related to the Malayalis, depend on the mainland for medical care and education . However, attempts to prioritize high-end tourism over local industry must consider the economic and environmental implications. Not every postcard location needs to become a selfie spot or tourist haven.

There is a buzz around Lakshadweep after the Prime Minister’s visit there and the unsavory comments made by several Maldivian politicians, including ministers. As Delhi-Malle develops, attempts are being made to turn the Lakshadweep Islands into a high-end beach tourism destination, an alternative to the Maldives. Lakshadweep is undeniably great: it has spacious sandy beaches and coral reefs and offers water sports such as diving and windsurfing. However, its fragile ecology and limited resources are limitations when it comes to mass tourism. Any plan to turn it into a destination to rival the Maldives would need a massive overhaul of the infrastructure currently designed to serve its 60,000-plus locals.

PREMIUM
The Maldives consistently attracts higher tourism volumes, especially from India, compared to the relatively modest tourism activity in Lakshadweep. (file)

Lakshadweep, which consists of about 36 islands and some atolls, reefs and sandbanks, is severely water-stressed – water sources are mostly available on the 10 inhabited islands – and depends on diesel power plants for electricity, with diesel supplied from mainland India . Tourism has not grown significantly as it is very capital intensive. The islands have a relatively stable local economy that depends on coconuts and fishing—the coconut economy is linked to the mainland, while the availability of tuna in the surrounding waters has allowed the island to engage in fish exports. The islands could do with a major improvement in transport and communications – more flights, ships, ferries and accessible helicopter services, especially – as the islanders, who are linguistically and culturally related to the Malayalis, depend on the mainland for medical care and education . However, attempts to prioritize high-end tourism over local industry must consider the economic and environmental implications. Not every postcard location needs to become a selfie spot or tourist haven.

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