Can you imagine hopping on to a luxury yacht and sailing on the east coast from Vishakhapatnam until the Andaman’s? Well this could be a reality soon, as the organisers of the Vizag Yachting Festival have this and more in the pipeline. When I received an invitation to the first Vizag Yachting Festival I was intrigued as the concept of yachting is still largely limited in India. As I made my way into the city, however I quickly realized why this could be a perfect yachting destination, courtesy its wonderful coastline and the pristine clear waters of the Bay of Bengal.
The Vizag Yachting Festival was organized by Andhra Pradesh Tourism in association with E factor, was held for five days recently primarily with the intent of putting Vizag on the map of marine tourism. With a coastline that extends 973 km, the Navy, Port Trust and local fishermen came together in this first of its kind event. In fact the Navy boats escorted the yachts and the local fishermen participated quite whole heartedly ensuring the local connect was never lost. Incidentally a small window of ticket sales for the event was kept open and proceeds will be used to benefit the fisherman community itself. Over the course of the festival the fleet of eight plush yachts from Thailand, Chennai, Mumbai and the Mediterranean waters showcased the sights of the port city of Vizag. The yachts also sailed through beaches like Rushikonda, RK Beach, Totlakonda and Yarada Beach while there were activities like swimming, fishing and snorkeling for the guests on board. Incidentally, most of these yachts have one or more cabins on board that can be rented out so you can sail in complete comfort. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu who flagged off the event opined that Vizag would soon be developed into a world-class tourism hub with a complete circuit for all kinds of travelers and yachting would be a great way for tourists to unwind. There will be two yachts stationed at the new jetty here for people to book an experience for themselves. The festival itself was abuzz with activity when during the day the sailing happened and evening were filled with musical performances by bands like Indian Ocean and Parikrama among others.
The coastal city of Vishakhapatnam is being marketed under the tourism tag line ‘Let’s Vizag’ and aims to showcase the city using novel experiences like yachting. Kaushik Mukherji, Lead Consultant, Andhra Pradesh Tourism said, “holidays need to be segmented to ensure that the product matches the need and aspiration of the person. We already had options for the budget and luxury travelers in our portfolio in Vizag so we thought of yachting for the high networth individuals to give them a one-of-its-kind experience.” Incidentally the high ticket value of this experience is being aimed to boost the tourism coffers of the state. Interestingly the location of the yachts happens to be the place where the Indian Navy had their fleet review a while back and has not been used after. The team of E factor and the Government has taken approval to use this as a marina to dock the yachts. Samit Garg, CEO of E-Factor and SkyWaltz that has organised the festival in association with Andhra Pradesh Tourism, explained, “our endeavor has been to attract people to come and enjoy the coastline here. If you will notice it is quite a unique one as it also offers views of the hills alongside the ocean. Also with the concept of holidays changing dramatically we need to ensure that we have something unique and different to offer and in our conversations with the Government there was a clear need to do something around water, so we decided to have yachts.”
Post the festival the two yachts that will be stationed at the port include the luxury yacht Sea Norita, made by Sea Ray, a leading manufacturer of superior quality pleasure yachts. With a length of 38 feet, the yacht has been built with hull material of fiberglass and is an ocean worthy vehicle with two cabins and can handle 14 people on board apart from the crew and sleep five. The other yacht is Gypsea, from Silvertone and is a larger one about 47 ft. long made of SILV with a cruising capacity of 16 (excluding crew), capability of sleeping seven and three cabins. Samit explains that these yachts will start operations soon and will start with a two hour sunrise cruise. “We also plan to have two hour sunset cum dinner cruises and over the next 4-6 months we hope to have weekend cruises where people can charter a yacht to say Rajahmundry or Orissa. In phase three we hope to be able to sail all the way up to the Andaman’s,” he said. With experiential driven holidays ruling the roost, it is certain that these yachts have made the start in the right direction. And the next time you are in Vizag, do hop over on a yacht ride – it is a memorable experience and a treat that you can gift yourself.
This story appeared in the May 2018 issue of Spice Route here: Vizag Yachting Festival