The rapid growth of such large-scale economic and recreational activities in a relatively narrow and shrinking coastal strip always leads to competitive claims of industrial, residential and recreational uses for coastal locations. But more recently several environmental issues affecting both coastal resources and human habitations are also being raised. This calls for proper management and regulation of the multifarious coastal developments.
The Indian coasts vary widely in their structural and surface characteristics. This has a bearing on the relative levels of resource potentials, sectoral developments, settlements pattern, structure and linkages of the respective coastal zones. Peninsular India is straddled with 55 coastal districts having 104 higher order urban centres (Metro, Class I and II) of which 6 are metropolitan centers and 49 class I cities. Out of these all the 6 metros, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Surat and 27 class I cities have coastal locations,
While both the east and west coasts are dotted with tourist spots of varying interests, major coastal tourism destination areas functioning as sea-resorts are only few and far between, namely, Digha in West Bengal; Puri-Konark, Chilka Gopalpur in Orissa, Rameshwaram -Kanayakumari – Kovalam in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and, several beach resorts of Goa which attract most of the sea-faring domestic and international tourists.
The major coastal settlements, like port cities tend to attract not only the location-specific port and maritime activities, but also allied activities and uses. These include industry, trade and commerce, as well as institutional uses, which have a tendency to proliferate, through a suction phenomenon, rendering other off- coast settlements impoverished. As a result of this the coastal tourist resources like beach, etc. get depleted owing to urban and industrial “expansion or pushed out to more outlying locations. An integrated policy approach, therefore, becomes essential for overall development of a coastal settlement to cater to both tourism and non-tourism functions effectively.
Development of a coastal settlement as a tourist resort requires a scientific approach to planning interventions. The planning interventions have been identified as follows:
i) Sea resorts and beach tourism complexes should be ideally concerned as separate entities. They should be physically separated from the main urban node to avoid functional conflicts in tourism and non-tourism activities.
ii) Tourism infrastructure should also be planned in a dispersed manner along vantage stretches of the coast-line appropriate for tourism activities. It should not be unduly concentrated at one or two locations only. This would extend benefits from the tourism activity over a wider area, particularly to the smaller rural settlements of the coastal hinterland.
iii) A comprehensive scheme for extensive water-front development incorporating various recreational elements should be formulated for optimal utilization as also protection of the tourist-resource.
iv) It is also imperative to discourage proliferation of tourist infrastructure along the coast, by organizing its development perpendicular to the coast, generally in the hinterland of existing resorts. At an area level, the main network should be planned to run along but a distance away from the coast, connecting various urban centers in the hinterland region and having link roads leading down to select points of tourist infrastructure on the coast. This concept widely advocated in coastal resorts development in several European countries like France, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Corsica, Turkey, Greece and others, is directed at regulating, reducing and restricting the development pressure on a resource of finite capacity like a coastal zone, exposed to incompatible uses.
Its salient points are restricting access, limiting facilities, zoning the various activities, scheduling the activities and developing alternative destinations colonial rulers. In particular, it takes up the example of the hills of Uttarakhand where the changes in the traditional economic structure had a far reaching impact on the life and culture of the hill communities. Finally it attempts to explain the concept of sustainable development in the context of tourism and prescribes ways in which sustainable development can be brought about without injuring the interests of the local communities.