‘Aim to provide quality tourism’

Print edition : September 18, 2015

R.V. Deshpande. Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

Interview with R.V. Deshpande, Tourism Minister.

Raghunath Vishwanath Deshpande, Tourism and Large and Medium Scale Industries Minister, is keen on giving Karnataka tourism a direction and purpose. Excerpts from the interview he gave Frontline on the eve of his visit to South America for a “road show” to attract investment into Karnataka.

What lies on the horizon for tourism in Karnataka?

We want to make Karnataka the most favoured tourist destination of the country and among the top 50 tourist destinations in the world. This means we have to look beyond mere tourists’ numbers and make a strategic shift towards quality tourism. We are concentrating on providing high-quality, reliable, easily available and affordable infrastructure facilities and services, wayside amenities and last-mile connectivity to tourist destinations. We have unveiled the Karnataka Tourism Policy 2015-2020, which not only aims at increasing the contribution of the tourism sector to the State’s gross domestic product (GDP), but also seeks to put in place an integrated approach for the development of a sustainable tourism industry that is backed by relevant infrastructure, effective institutional mechanisms and an enhanced capacity to deliver on these targets.

What steps are you taking to create tourist-friendly facilities and improve the security and wellness quotient of tourists?

Quality infrastructure, reliable services and facilities are the key words. We are deploying police constables, who will be known as tourist mitras [friends], in all the key destinations of the State from November 1 for the safety and security of tourists. A dedicated disaster management team is also being set up. We have encouraged corporate houses to adopt, invest and maintain major tourist spots. The Karnataka Tourism Vision Group has authorised the construction of 50 toilets at various destinations.

Guides are an essential part of tourism, but in Karnataka they are conspicuous by their absence in tourist destinations.

Yes, good quality guides are an essential part of a tourist destination. In order to provide versatile tourist guides we have started specialised tourism courses at Bangalore University, Mysore University, Visvesvaraya Technological University, Mangalore University and Rani Channamma University.

What role do you envisage for the Karnataka Tourism Infrastructure Limited?

We need to bring in mega investments and projects like say a Disney-style entertainment/amusement theme park or a London Eye into Karnataka. KTIL will help in this. Besides helping us mobilise big projects and resources, it will create tourism infrastructure and support facilities through special-purpose vehicles, joint ventures and public-private participation and help create employment. KTIL will be headed by a chief executive officer from the tourism industry.

What is the purpose of enforcing the Karnataka Tourism Trade Facilitation and Regulation Act, 2015?

Again, it is an enabling mechanism to bring in investments.

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