Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to reopen tourist spots, that had been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in August. State tourism minister M. Srinivasa Rao said a new tourism policy has been prepared for the same and it will be released soon.

Tourist spots like Kailasagiri in Visakhapatnam and Bhavani Islands on Krishna river near Vijayawada will open to the public from 15 August. They had been shut down due to the pandemic. Boating facilities on Krishna and Godavari rivers that had also been suspended will resume from 15 August, the minister said. In order to make up for the losses suffered during the pandemic, the state government will convert tourism hostels with low occupancy rates into quarantine centres for rent.

The state has sought Rs. 1,000 crore from the Centre to revive the tourism sector, the minister said. Plans are afoot to promote temple tourism in Tirupati, Simhachalam, and Dwaraka. Officials concerned have been told to resume tourist packages to Tirupati, Kanipakam, and Sri Kalahasti in the first week of August. He said star hotels will also reopen next week under a public-private partnership.

“Andhra Pradesh has several tourist spots, including the vast coastline, that need to be exploited. Moreover, we have Godavari, Krishna, Penna, and other rivers that can help attract tourists. We also have beautiful forests in Araku, Paderu, and Yallamala, and Horsley Hills where eco-tourism can be promoted under a public-private partnership,” Mr. Rao said.

Next, the state is planning to give a boost to the sports sector and open sports development centres at Bapatla, Macherla, and Tenali in Guntur district and Draksharamam in East Godavari district. To encourage sportspersons, the state has allotted Rs. 3 crore and plans to give Rs. 5 lakh to gold medalists, Rs. 3 lakh to silver medalists, and Rs. 2 lakh to bronze medalists in various categories. Moreover, the state will encourage entrepreneurs to improve the stadiums at Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, and Guntur, said the minister

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