The festival also had performances by bands such as Parikrama and Indian Ocean.
Often overlooked in favour of the Western Ghats, the coastline of the other half of India lies unexplored, with a smattering of coastal cities along the 1,450 km stretch. But that might soon change as Andhra Pradesh’s tourism department has set its hopes on Vizag to popularise yachting in India, to generate tourism. The future for Vizag, only in a few months, may look drastically different as the seaside town will open its doors and waterfronts commercially, for those who wish to try out a different kind of holiday.
Being the headquarter of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy, Vizag’s coastline is ideal for larger sea navigators (ships) due to the steep waters that run right up to the bay, giving easy access to land. To promote Vizag as a holiday destination, a four-day yachting festival, was held recently. Luxury yachting, brainchild of Samit Garg, CEO and co-founder, E-Factor (adventure tourism company), was the highlight of the festival. He came up with the idea after Andhra Pradesh chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu, asked him “to do something about the dock”.
Built three-and-a-half years ago for Naval use, the dock near fisherman’s harbour in Vizag was selected as the venue for the festival due to its strategic placement.
“It wasn’t easy to get the yacht to Vizag,” Garg said, while speaking to the Financial Express on the day of the inauguration in Vizag.
Once Garg decided to host the festival, he encountered innumerable obstacles on the way — varying from figuring out the protocol followed on international waters to transportation of huge machines required for the event. The yachts that came all the way from Thailand, West Coast, Chennai and two from the Mediterranean waters, set sail albeit a few glitches and delays, mostly due to the logistics of the operation.
Another highlight of the festival that had people gawking was the flyboarding or ‘hydroflying’ show — a relatively new water sport where one attempts to ‘fly’ with the help of strong water pressure.
The festival also had performances by bands such as Parikrama and Indian Ocean. At a slightly steep price of Rs 25,000 to Rs 45,000 per hour, exploring the eastern port promises to be quite an exciting adventure. “The disposable income of the country is increasing and people should spend it in India, rather than looking abroad for luxury holidays. That’s what we’re trying to offer here,”
Garg said. Two yachts — a16-people cruiser that can sleep five and a 20-people seater, with a capacity for seven to sleep on board — are to remain stationed in the city for commercial purposes.
Even as the immediate yachting opportunities on offer are a ‘two-hour sunrise cruise’ or a ‘two- to four-hour sunset and/or dinner’ cruise, some guests can also choose to stay on board while the yacht is anchored overnight. Garg, who plans to introduce more lucrative voyages, said it would take a few months before longer trips or international cruises could be set on one of the yachts. The four-day yachting festival meant to be a precursor to future tourism opportunities, was held from March 29 to April 1.