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Guest Column

Navi Mumbai Airport will be a boon for the economy, hospitality & sustainable tourism

By: Ankit Kansal, MD- Axon Developers

The work is going full swing on the USD 2.1 billion (INR 17,000 Crores) Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA). The project is tentatively expected to start operating in 2025. The initial capacity of the project will be close to 10 million and once fully operational, it can reach up to ~ 60 million, making it one of the major airports in India.

The project, which is located just 5 km from the Panvel suburban railway station will be a game-changer in the real estate, tourism, and economic development of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). After the airport project, there will be a shift of focus toward Panvel, Raigad, and National Highway 348, empowering it to become the new growth engines of India’s commercial capital. The airport, which will operate simultaneously alongside the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport will be spread across a vast area of 1160 hectares.

Like any other, mega infrastructure project, the Navi Mumbai International Airport of DB Patil Airport as it is officially called will create millions of new jobs. There will be direct employment creation in tourism, real estate, retail, construction, logistics, facility management, etc. Likewise, there will be hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs, thereby renewing optimism in the regional and Navi Mumbai real estate market.

The NMIA is situated at an approachable distance from the Taloja Industrial Park (13 km) and JNPT Port (16 km) which will further enhance its economic significance. NMIA with an annual cargo capacity of 1.5 million tons annually will work in tandem with Taloja and JNPT to boost the manufacturing ecosystem in the region. The region already has a small but developing agribusiness and the advent of the airport will render further thrust to agribusiness, agri economy, and other allied sectors.

Mumbai’s new Weekend Gateway

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There will be plenty of focus on sustainable ecotourism and cultural tours in the region. Located within the Western Ghats, the airport region is blessed with a terrific amount of natural beauty. In the east are the hill stations of Lonavala, while in the west the vast Arabian Sea is situated. There are multiple rivers such as Patalganga & Amba, numerous creeks, and natural lakes. As per government studies, 7.1% of the region is waterbody. The region is also blessed with thick mangroves and dense forests.

At a 30 mins drive from the airport site is the Karnala Bird Sanctuary and the wider Karnala ecozones. The eco reserve is spread across an area of 43 Square km and has plenty of forts, hilly terrains, and cultural sites inside. The region is rich in flora and fauna and is home to more than 200 bird species. With the aid of further investments, the entire region can be transformed with a host of new facilities such as trekking, river boating, nature walks, bird-watching towers, etc.

There are already hotels, resorts, and homestays near the bird sanctuary, but the potential is vast.

A potential staycation hub

The beautiful region can become a breeding ground for hospitality, workcation, second home industry, and much more. The availability of Matheran hills and abundant riverways can further make it the potential hub for adventure sports, eco travels, medium-difficulty trekking courses, etc.

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People from Mumbai, generally during extended weekends visit Goa, Lonavala, or Sindhudurg. However, once the airport region is adequately developed, it can offer a more affordable weekend getaway to Mumbaikars with plenty of options for adventure sports, rejuvenation, nature tours, wildlife, water activities, etc. The region is blessed with thick forests, green hilltops, and multiple rivers & tributaries, rendering a calm & serene environment. It is perfect to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily hectic lives and recharge the batteries in the midst of the freshness of nature.

The natural essence will also make it a thriving market for wellness businesses such as Ayurveda, massage centers, PanchaKarma centers, yoga schools, detox & beauty clinics, mindfulness training houses, etc. Currently, there are few holistic health centers operating in the region. Nevertheless, the potential is vast, as the international airport will unlock a tremendous volume of new opportunities.

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