Maharashtra plans affordable water sports at beaches

The authorities hope to tap into the largely unorganised market and beef up revenues by offering water activities at standardised rates to the annual 6.6 crore domestic visitors and 50 lakh foreign tourists in the state

If everything falls in place, the state’s beaches may soon become popular water sports destinations with activities such as jet-skiing, parasailing, water rafting, etc.

While there are private operators who offer water sports facilities at several beaches, they are known to charge exorbitant rates. File pic for representation
While there are private operators who offer water sports facilities at several beaches, they are known to charge exorbitant rates. File pic for representation

The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) has already invited proposals for such activities at Vasai, Alibaug, Murud, Ganpatipule and Malvan beaches, among others. The government believes this is one way to tap into the tourism market in the state, which receives about 6.6 crore domestic visitors and 50 lakh foreign tourists a year.

The idea has met with such good response, that the authorities have decided to extend the period in which interested parties can submit proposals, the last date for which will now be September 30 instead. The MMB hopes that it will be able to offer water sports of standard quality and at standard rates to tourists, who currently depend on private operators who often charge exorbitant rates.

The infrastructure surrounding these areas, including the road network and boarding facilities for tourists are also not up to the mark. “The main aim behind this idea is to help tourists. At many beaches there are locals who are into the business of water sports and usually it is seen that they charge exorbitant rates. We want the rates to be uniform,” said MMB CEO Asheesh Sharma.

Amongst others who have shown interest in developing water sports facilties, are local villagers residing in coastal regions such as Raigad, Kashid, Ganpatipule and Malvan. The villagers are forming an association and will submit their proposal soon. Meanwhile, the interested parties have also asked MMB to organise a meeting with the Minister of State Ports to discuss the plans.

A source from the MMB also told this paper that if proposals came forward then water sports can also be started at Juhu. According to officials, water sports in Maharashtra has largely remained an unorganised segment, but has the promise of being a significant tourist attraction which can generate much higher revenues for the state.

Plans
There are plans to have motorised or towed water sports, including jet-skiing, parasailing banana boating, cable skiing and more. There will also be non-motorised activities such as canoeing, water rafting, dinghy sailing, kite surfing, etc.

However, developing surrounding infrastructure is not part of this plan, informed officials. Basic amenities such as lighting and lifeguards will be provided by the local government bodies,” said a source.

Pack your bags

>> The facilities will be provided in these districts: Raigad, Varsoli, Palav, Diveagar, Kihim, Revdanda, Shriwardhan, Nagaon, Akshi, Harihareshwar, Alibaug, Kashid, Akshi Raiwadi,Murud, Vasai, Mandva, Sindhudurg and Malvan

>> Within Ratnagiri, locations such as Areware, Harne, Ratnagiri, Guhagar, Ganpatipule, Dabhol will also offer water sports

>> The timings will fall between 6.30 am and 6.30 pm or sunset, whichever is earlier

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