For tourist comfort

Print edition : October 21, 2011

N.C. Muniyappa, Principal Secretary to the Karnataka Tourism Department. - AFFFS

ONE State. Many worlds. This strapline may aptly suit Karnataka. After all, from the tourism point of view this southern State has everything save for snow to offer: from a pretty coastline and beaches to mind-blowing medieval architecture and a marvellous heritage; from a wonderful spread of wildlife sanctuaries and bewildering spots of biodiversity and natural beauty to exceptional places of ecotourism and pristine cradles of pilgrimage.

Karnataka Tourism has also won, for the fourth time in a row and the sixth time in the last 10 years, the Union Government's Best Tourism Marketing Award (marketing and publicity collaterals) at the National Tourism Awards.

But it has not been able to shake off the unfavourable comparison with other southern States, such as Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala, which have a roaring tourism industry.

N.C. Muniyappa, the Principal Secretary for Tourism, disagrees with this view. Speaking to Frontline amidst preparations for the Mysore Dasara, Muniyappa said that Karnataka was the fourth most favoured destination in the country. We rank fourth after Andhra Pradesh, where the majority of tourist arrivals is accounted for by the pilgrims who flock to the Sri Venkataswara temple at Tirupathi; Tamil Nadu, again on account of temple tours; and Uttar Pradesh, where the Agra-Taj Mahal circuit attracts the bulk of tourists. Some 3.95 crore tourists came to Karnataka in 2010. We also have one of the largest budgets for tourism anywhere in the country Rs.238 crore.

Talking about the Dasara festivities for 2011, he said the theme this year would be naada habba (people's festival), which would be an amalgamation of many Dasaras heritage, religious harmony ( souharda), reformation ( parivartana) and Dasara Hind (the title for the winner in wrestling).

Also, Karnataka Tourism, in an initiative to bring back and highlight the Dasara traditions of yore, has introduced the concept of home stays, or Mane Mane Dasara in Mysore and its surrounding areas during the Dasara.

Muniyappa said: Right from the rangoli outside the front door to the dolls that are traditionally displayed in homes during Dasara, to the cuisines and Dasara savouries, we are offering tourists a sequential experience. We have identified a number of homes for this special package, which, we hope, will allow tourists to experience the Dasara festivities as traditionally as possible. Tourism Department officials and members of the Dasara Committee have already inspected the selected houses and fixed the prices to extend this hospitality to visitors.

Tourists are expected to choose the 10 best houses, which will receive prizes and certificates. Foreign tourists are also expected to be taken to the prize-winning homes to acquaint them with Mane Mane Dasara.

Given the importance of tourism in terms of income and employment generation, and also in showcasing the State, Karnataka Tourism has embarked on an integrated plan to develop its tourist circuits. Under this programme, the department will ensure that infrastructure and facilities en route to and at tourist locations are convenient, clean and provide value for money and be available for all kinds of tourists, not just the well-heeled.

Under this initiative, the department has listed 77 destinations that will have the basic facilities that any tourist will demand. In the first phase, around 40 destinations were identified. We need to give tourists what they require. The challenge is to pay attention to failures at the micro level. Any shortfall will be listed out and solved. We hope to cover the entire list of 77 destinations within a period of three years, Muniyappa said.

Ravi Sharma

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