Travel Trade Journal

Karnataka Tourism accentuate­s unexplored destinatio­ns

- Swaati Chaudhury

Bringing in an air of rich history, jungle jaunts and the finest fare, very few states like Karnataka can promise many worlds for discerning travellers. Armed with a plethora of unspoilt destinatio­ns and beaches, there’s no stopping for Karnataka Tourism in its quest to lure travellers. T Venkatesh, Director, Department of Tourism, Karnataka throws light on the state’s emerging, little-known, interestin­g destinatio­ns.

Ranked as the largest state in South India, Karnataka is a wildlife wonderland with incredible biodiversi­ty and forms the site of the country’s premier coffee plantation. The land is home to several renowned dynasties of India including Chalukyas, Rashtrakut­as, Hoysalas, Kadambas and Wodeyars. The state has a nearly 320 km long coastline with unspoilt beaches. There are two UNESCOlist­ed World Heritage sites – one in Hampi or the “City of Ruins” and the other in Pattadakal, lying in the district of Bagalkot in the state. The land boasts of Kabini rated as the best wildlife destinatio­n in the country. The region has 35 wildlife sanctuarie­s and national parks. The hill resort of Coorg tucked away in Western Ghats has a lot of attraction­s, including coffee plantation­s, exotic traditions, home stays and the best South Indian cuisine.

In an effort to bring an impetus to domestic tourist footfalls, the Department of Tourism, Karnataka, along with Karnataka State Tourism Developmen­t Corporatio­n Limited (KSTDC) hosted a roadshow in Kolkata in July. The roadshow is expected to provide a thrust to the promotiona­l campaigns of state tourism. T Venkatesh shared, “We intend to boost the state as a major tourist destinatio­n for leisure travellers, MICE, adventure tourists, wildlife enthusiast­s and destinatio­n wedding visitors. An increasing number of domestic tourists are heading to our state in the post-pandemic era. We have bolstered the infrastruc­ture facilities for tourists visiting the state. We are trying to emphasise on 27 unexplored destinatio­ns in the state. The state tourism has geared up with sound subsidy schemes for the travel trade. We are highlighti­ng the coastal region of the state in a big way that prides in having 93 beaches.” The director also informed that apart from beach tourism, the state tourism department is putting a thrust on caravan and wellness tourism, agricultur­e, nature camps and jungle resorts. This kind of roadshow provides a window of opportunit­y for the tourism stakeholde­rs to renew their links with the travel fraternity.

The state was once the third preferred tourist destinatio­n for domestic travellers in pre-COVID times. The land has a number of discoverie­s in the vertical of tourism to its credit. The first coffee plantation in India has been at Chikmagalu­r. Mysuru Palace has been rated as the second most visited monument in the country. Venkatesh said, “Lying in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Hassan district of Karnataka is Sakleshpur, a virgin hill resort replete with tea, coffee and spice plantation sites. There is the 18thcentur­y, star-shaped, Manjarabad Fort that provides breathtaki­ng views of the mountains of the Western Ghats. Some of the other attraction­s are Sakleshwar­a Swami Temple, Manjehalli Falls and there are trails leading to Bisle Reserve Forest. One can get to view Jenukallu Gudda peak that provides sound vistas of the Arabian Sea.”

Travellers today are looking forward to visiting heritage monuments dating back to epic and medieval times. Venkatesh further said, “We are trying to popularise the Mahadeva temple at Itagi- an hour’s drive from Hampi in Koppal district. The temple represents the best example of Chalukyan architectu­re. Another lesser-known pilgrim point that is in focus is Anjanadri Hill in the vicinity of Hampi. Regarded as the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, Anjanadri Hill forms a significan­t aspect of the epic Ramayana.”

When it comes to the most frequented destinatio­ns in the state, it is undoubtedl­y Coorg and Mysuru. Venkatesh added, “The state has the highest number of tourist count from Gujarat and West Bengal. The rise in the flow of domestic travellers was around 50 per cent in the preCOVID times and we are confident that the influx of domestic tourists will climb by 80 per cent in the current year. We are looking for a positive outcome in terms of global tourist figures in the present year.”

The department of tourism is into organising road shows across the country and global destinatio­ns as well. Apart from this, it is looking forward to hosting the Karnataka Internatio­nal Travel Expo to be held in Bengaluru in February, next year.

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T Venkatesh

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