Karnataka showcases its ‘wild’ side
Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology and Tourism, Government of Karnataka, talks about initiatives taken to promote tourism in the state.
QHow is the new Karnataka Tourism Policy 2015-20 different from the 2009-14 policy?
Karnataka’s Department of Tourism has always been endeavouring to make Karnataka among the best and must-visit tourist destinations in India. Karnataka Tourism is actively implementing policies, infrastructure development initiatives and capacity building strategies to achieve this objective. It is with this view that Karnataka Tourism has reworked its Tourism Policy 2009-14 to give a new shape to the industry. The policy focuses on customer centricity, branding, source marketing, capacity building and training, policy development, fostering PPP ventures, etc. Further, as an extension of the Tourism Policy 2009-14, Karnataka Tourism formulated the Tourism Policy 2015-2020. The key differences between the two versions are given below: Tourism policy of 2009-14 was tourist-focused, but the tourism policy 20152020 is investment centric and more focus is on inclusive development by considering all the stakeholders associated with Karnataka Tourism Much focus was given to adopt a collaborative regional development approach. More private investments are encouraged by providing various subsidies and concessions. The policy also aims at streamlining processes by establishing tourism infrastructure to carry out hassle-free tourism services. As a part of responsible tourism, more focus has been given towards corporate investments on tourism projects, particularly for rural tourism development Much focus has been put on sustainable development of tourist sites and promoting sustainable growth Introduction of small aircraft and airlines to make air service more people friendly.
QKarnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has upped its game with some new collaborations. Please elaborate.
The Department of Tourism and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation have been offering customised local sightseeing trips in and around Bengaluru to popular pre-defined destinations. KSTDC, for the first time, has taken the initiative to run city tours on pilot basis, by introducing ‘Bengaluru Detours’ at affordable rates, in association with OLA cabs. The available choice of vehicles through OLA cabs ranges from normal cars and sedans to SUVs and MUVs. There has been fairly positive response from the general public for ‘Bengaluru Detours’.
QWhat are the main marketing initiatives undertaken by Karnataka Tourism to increase tourist footfalls in the current year?
The Department of Tourism has adopted a multipronged strategy to promote Karnataka. This includes organising trade fairs, district tourism festivals, lake festivals, Bengaluru International Arts Festival, etc. Karnataka Tourism has launched cobranding initiatives with RCB and Bengaluru Football Club to promote Karnataka tourism. This is apart from the promotional initiatives undertaken by DoT in international travel events such as WTM, ITB Berlin, etc. Karnataka Tourism has declared 2017 as the ‘Year of
the Wild’. The objective is not to restrict tourism to wildlife alone, but also to promote the wild side of Karnataka with its adventure activities. The state has been focusing more on adventure tourism such as aero sports, skydiving in Mysuru, motorcycle tourism in Hampi, scuba festival at Nethrani Island, surfing festival at Mangaluru, etc. For the promotion of adventure tourism, DoT has joined hands with Department of Sports & Youth Affairs and General Thimmayya National Academy of Adventure Karnataka for promoting rock climbing, trekking, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, parasailing and paragliding. In addition, DoT has also rolled out social media campaigns to promote Karnataka Tourism.
Government of Karnataka has established the Karnataka Ecotourism Development Board to create awareness about wildlife and promote eco-tourism. Along with the Ecotourism Board and Jungle Lodges and Resorts, eco-tourism zones are being identified with a chain of nature camps and ecotrails to provide the best experience of the wild.
QTell us about the growth in tourist footfalls to the state. What are your tourism targets for 2018?
We have aggressive targets for 2018. As per the 2015 data released by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Karnataka stands at the ninth position in terms of foreign footfalls and fourth in terms of domestic footfalls among other states in India. We are aiming at being among the top three in domestic footfalls and the top five in foreign footfalls by 2018.
QKindly throw light on your recent initiatives and future plans to augment the tourist infrastructure in the state.
Karnataka Tourism has embarked on destination development across 20 destinations in the state. Government of Karnataka, in its 2017-18 budget, has allocated ` 385 crore, which covers integrated development of heritage tourism infrastructure in the destinations, development of roads connecting to World Heritage sites and other important destinations.
Gaurav Gupta Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science & Technology and Tourism, Government of Karnataka