Why India Should Develop Andaman Islands Over Lakshadweep for Tourism

Tensions have escalated between India and the Maldives after Maldives ministers criticized India’s Prime Minister Modi over photos from his recent two-day visit to Lakshadweep. The purpose of the Prime Minister’s visit was to promote the Indian union territory off Kerala as a new tourist destination. However, critical comments from the Maldives cabinet ministers have strained diplomatic ties and cast uncertainty over Lakshadweep’s tourism plans.

This has led to a social media war. Now every Tom, Dick & Harry is jumping in and becoming a travel expert to add fuel to this media war. While promoting tourism across India’s territories is ideal, practical constraints mean that some regions such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands may be better positioned for near-term growth than Lakshadweep.

At over 8,000 square kilometers, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands provide abundant space for sustainable tourism growth. Lakshadweep’s tiny land area of just 32 square kilometers cannot support extensive development without severely damaging fragile coral reef ecosystems. With strategic advantages in location, connectivity, infrastructure and attractions, the Andamans emerge as the better choice for expanding India’s tropical island tourism industry.

The Andamans’ Greater Land Area Reduces Environmental Strains

The Andaman and Nicobar archipelago’s islands have over 250 times more habitable land area than Lakshadweep. This allows constructing essential tourism facilities like accomodations, restaurants, shops and activities without encroaching on sensitive habitats.

Lakshadweep’s isolated atolls and islets harbor vibrant coral reefs, lagoons, mangroves and tropical fish nurseries. But these could only support a limited tourist capacity before construction damage and waste discharge from densified hotels and amenities degrades marine life.

The Andamans possess more robust ecosystems with large tracts of rainforest, rugged volcanic islands and vibrant yet less fragile coral gardens capable of recovering from limited tourism. Careful zoning and regulations can shield sensitive areas while opening low impact zones for visitors.

As climate change intensifies storms and raises sea levels, the Andamans’ forests offer natural resilience to preserve habitability too compared with Lakshadweep’s tiny land exposure.

Strategic Location Permits Better Transport Connectivity

Located closer to mainland India in the southeastern Bay of Bengal, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands possess advantages in travel access over remotely positioned Lakshadweep off India’s west coast.

Flights from major Indian cities like Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi reach Port Blair in just 2 hours before fanning out to other islands by ferry. Lakshadweep relies almost entirely on slower ships from Kochi in Kerala taking 15-18 hours to reach Kavaratti island, with very limited air access. This allows more tourists to visit the Andamans with less transit time, cost and carbon emissions.

Plans to expand Port Blair International Airport’s capacity to handle 2.5 million passengers annually and extend existing runways will also boost air connectivity substantially. New passenger ship services directly from Vizag port to Havelock and Little Andaman are also planned to supplement airport links.

Lakshadweep will remain constrained by very limited flight options from Kochi or Agatti island’s tiny airstrip. Options to seriously upgrade airports or jetties to match Andaman capacities are simply unavailable on its minute scattering of tiny islets.


Recent Infrastructure Upgrades Enable Tourism Growth

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands’ administration has invested heavily in infrastructure upgrades such as:

  • Expanding 4G and 5G mobile coverage across the islands
  • Constructing additional hospitals, college campuses and waste treatment plants
  • Widening key roads like the Andaman Trunk Road
  • Developing Port Blair’s water sports complex as a hub for adventure tourists

These provide the modernized amenities and access capacity needed to cater for rapidly rising tourist numbers without degrading the ecology.

Meanwhile Lakshadweep lacks this scale of infrastructure, especially on outer islands beyond the main Kavaratti hub. Attempting dispersed tourism development on such tiny, remote and resource-poor islands would jeopardize fragile lifestyles and livelihoods of local fishing and coconut farming communities.

Diverse Attractions Offer Adventure and Relaxation

Thanks to their generous size, lush habitats and colorful history the Andaman and Nicobar Islands simply offer far more sights, sounds and activities to attract tourists than Lakshadweep.

Diverse Scenery

Tropical rainforests with unique wildlife, mangrove-lined rivers, picturesque uninhabited volcanic islands, pristine beaches and some of India’s most vibrant coral reefs provide photogenic backdrops for creating memorable vacations catering to both adventurous and relaxed travelers.

Activities like trekking, wildlife cruises, snorkeling, sea kayaking and scanning for rare birds engage visitors with these stunning landscapes and seascapes.

Living History

Remnants of the islands’ vibrant past cultures add to a profound sense of place. British colonial architecture, WWII bunkers, the historic Cellular Jail national memorial and cultural diversity stemming from settlers and indigenous tribes give the Andamans a multifaceted heritage to uncover.

Museums, guided tours and chance encounters unpack this history of commerce, conflict and cross-cultural mingling to fascinate visitors.

Indigenous Island Cultures

Experiencing thriving indigenous tribal traditions and ways of life adds invaluable cultural exchange opportunities. This occurs through managed visits to the Jarawa Reserve to witness tribal song and dance or observing Sentinelese fishermen spearfishing as they have for millennia.

For tourists, Port Blair’s melting pot public markets also showcase cultural variety with migrants spanning India and neighboring countries. Lakshadweep lacks such variety with a small homogenous population.

Adventure Sport Growth

Surfing, kitesurfing, sailing cruises, deep sea fishing and even upcoming plans for hot air ballooning over Havelock showcase the Andamans’ potential as a world-class adventure and extreme sports tourism destination to rival the likes of Bali or Hawaii.

Lakshadweep’s tiny islands simply cannot support similar large-scale sports infrastructure and events that need extensive land bases.

Avoiding Environmental Risks

Developing tourism centering upon the Andaman and Nicobar Islands involves fewer environmental risks compared with disturbing Lakshadweep’s exceptional yet highly fragile coral atolls. But sustainability practices remain essential for safeguarding the Andamans’ future.

Photo_of_a_Girl_Walking_at_a_Beach_in Andaman,India

Carrying Capacities

Authorities must carefully assess each island’s tourist carrying capacity based on size, ecosystem diversity and infrastructure levels. Entry fees, licenses and booking quotas can then manage visitor numbers preventing overload.

Eco-Friendly Buildings

All new hotels and facilities in the Andamans must adhere to strict environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations. Enforcing energy efficiency, waste recycling and water conservation allows constructing needed amenities without externalities.

Zoning Conservation Areas

Sections of pristine rainforest, mangroves and coral reef with critical biodiversity significance should be protected by designating non-development zones legally off limits to new buildings and tourism activities. This selective concentration of facilities in designated areas then prevents habitat destruction.

Final Words

Given vast land area, habitats resistant to limited development, superior connectivity, enhanced amenities and wealth of attractions, developing tourism centered upon the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is far more practical than in Lakshadweep. With careful planning, assessments and policies focused on sustainability, the Andamans can propel India’s tropical island tourism scene to new heights while preserving a precious ecosystem and culture.

The choice is clear – select the Andamans for tourism over Lakshadweep and both visitors and residents benefit for generations!

Pranav Das
Pranav Das

I’m Pranav Das, Indian Travel blogger & Reputation Management Expert by profession and lover of world cultures, languages, souls, mountains, oceans, and wild spaces.

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