Tourism in India has taken a huge spin from the past decade and it's one of the hottest sectors in our country. It is estimated to have generated $121 billion, contributing to 6.4% of nation’s GDP. And, recently, we have heard of many success stories in this space, but here’s is an entrepreneur who’s taking a deep dive to set out a new trend in this industry by bringing home India’s first live-aboard.
A live-aboard is a sea-going vessel that is equipped to provide comfortable accommodation in guest cabins, dining and leisure facilities as it travels around the island areas to visit interesting spots, usually for scuba-diving. This is very popular worldwide, in sea-tourism sectors such as Maldives, Thailand, Caribbean Islands, Red Sea, Indonesia, etc. But this is a pioneering initiative in the tourism industry in India.
The Infiniti is a brand-new, high end live-aboard that was constructed in Thailand in 2013 specifically for the purpose of live-aboard diving in India’s remote, and relatively unexplored, Andaman Islands or Lakshdweep islands. Sunil Bakshi, the pioneer behind Infiniti says “Certified by RINA for unrestricted navigation, the Infiniti is equipped with state-of-the-art systems for complete safety and comfort in all weather conditions. This means that it can comfortably access places where everyday boats cannot reach”.
Sunil Bakshi is a former competitive swimmer and passionate diver. He comes with a strong business background & managing an premier engineering consultancy since 1995, and he has personally set up the middle east venture. Having dived in locations around the world, Sunil was convinced that India offers similar – if not better – potential for scuba diving. He believes it’s a $4 billion market globally.
The concept is new to India it is attracting travellers (especially divers) from all over the world to the Andaman Islands . The Infiniti provides comfortable accommodation with all facilities as it sails around the island waters to access the best dive spots. This really puts Andamans on the world’s scuba diving map as a premier dive destination since divers can easily & comfortably dive at remote dive spots such as Barren Island (an active volcano), Narcondam Island (remote, extinct volcano with fantastic diving), etc. We are specialized in scuba diving with all state of the art equipment and an expert onboard team. We also teach diving through PADI courses (we are a PADI authorized dive boat); and in addition also will do some surf trips, general cruising & exploration trips, etc.
The Infiniti live-aboard of course has tested all my entrepreneurial abilities, I had to start by investing 18 months in getting the Infiniti custom designed and fabricated to specification and to get it RINA certified classed. I built it in Thailand (a foreign country with language & cultural challenges) and sailed it to Port Blair, Andaman Islands. And then I’ve built the team, we’ve done the paperwork etc and started operating since April 2013. It has been a lot of hard work but this has been my dream – to operate a scuba diving live-aboard with an Indian flag in Indian island waters. I have been a passionate diver, one of India’s first scuba divers and I wanted to pioneer live-aboard diving which is the best way of diving in India… and its fantastic that I have been able to achieve my dream.
I am a new entrant into the “tourism” industry overall, but what I can see is that there is a need for fresh thinking and for innovation here. Everyone tends to want to market the same things and believe that this is what people want, but that’s not quite true. People want active holidays, they want some adventure, they will pay for it. at least there is a segment that will. To talk specifically about diving, it is growing at a 40% rate YOY, so that’s amazing and with that context, India is the place to be! There are about 100,000 divers in India currently so it’s a pretty sizeable community.
There is a huge potential market waiting to be tapped, and the Infiniti will draw in both domestic and international diving enthusiasts towards the sheer magic of diving peacefully & exclusively in pristine island waters from the comfort of a live-aboard.
Karina Tourism & Adventures Pvt. Ltd., is a Mumbai-based company with a mission to offer interesting and innovative opportunities in India’s travel & tourism sector.
You can reach out to Sunil Bakshi at Sunil.Bakshi@InfinitiLiveaboard.com.