Gujarat all game for tourists


Aero, water and land sports on the anvil.

Searching for its identity as a tourist destination, this year Gujarat seems to have set its sights on adventure sports.

The Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG), along with Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL), will be developing aero, water and land sports in various parts of the state through private participation.

Having already zeroed in on places like Dharampur and Saputara, SAG is now scouting for more destinations conducive to adventure sports.

Prominent of them all is the Narmada Canal water sports complex that is to come up. “We will be inviting bids from private players soon to set up a water sports complex at Narmada Canal near Koba. The complex will boast of facilities like jet skiing, jet boat rides, and rowing sports like canoeing and kayaking, apart from public amenities. We also plan to set up a coaching centre for rowing sports,” said Atul Karwal, director-general, SAG.

The water sports complex, to cost roughly around Rs 2 crore, will be built on the lines of H2O Water Complex at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai. SAG also plans to evolve guidelines on construction and maintenance of the water complex to be managed by the bid winner under a lease between 30 years and 40 years.

The authority is mulling over developing land sports such as land sails to attract more tourists to Kutch. Land sailing is motion across land in a wheeled vehicle powered by wind through the use of a sail.

“Stable sand and windy atmosphere make it suitable to conduct land sailing at Rann of Kutch, which has so far remained unexplored,” said Karwal.

Other sports like rock climbing, mountaineering, sky diving, para sailing and para gliding will also be revived once proper spots are identified. SAG has been contemplating on places like Idar, Girnar and coastal areas in the state.

Karwal added that while alternatives to rock climbing like sport climbing have been installed in Ahmedabad, much restoration and preservation are required for Idar to support camping, rock climbing and other sports.

Experts hope the effort will boost tourism and help the state find an identity as a tourist destination.

“While Kerala, Goa and Rajasthan market itself through their backwaters, beaches and palaces, Gujarat doesn’t have a strong identity. Though the state falls back on religious tourism, the efforts are not that fruitful. Adventure sports, on the other hand, could give the state such an identity as a tourist destination,” said Ruzan Khambatta of E Comm Opportunities Pvt Ltd.