BANGALORE: Karnataka, blessed with abundant natural resources, has been the most chosen tourist destination among both domestic and foreign destinations. Nearly 7, 48, 89, 238 domestic and 5, 34, 712 foreign tourists have visited the state during 2011.
Among the important tourist destinations of the state, the Mysore palace (Amba Vilas Palace), belonging to the erstwhile Wadiyar Dynasty, emerged as the most favourite destination with 30, 75, 896 domestic and 73, 689 foreign tourists visiting it last year.
In 2010, 31, 00, 301 domestic and 67, 422 foreign tourists visited Mysore Palace and Museum.
Karnataka has emerged as an important destination among all the states. The number of tourists visiting the state in 2011 speaks in volume about how tourism is picking momentum.
Raising to the occasion, the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has taken up tourist-friendly measures to attract more tourists. Now, the KSTDC has identified 314 tourism places in 30 districts as most visited tourist places. A few years ago, only 48 places had been identified as tourist spots.
However, there are many unexplored places, which are visited by many people, but the official number was not available.
Giving details of the number of tourists, both domestic and foreign, Dr Sundarnayak, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and MD, KSTDC, told Express that there were more than five important tourist spots in each district.
From Bidar to Chamaranagar, Karwar to Koppal, tourists visit many places throughout the year.
A number of new places of tourist interest were coming to light and the department attempts to provide better facilities there, he said. “Our ultimate goal is to make Karnataka a number one tourist destination in the country,” he said. In 2009, 3,27,29,679 domestic and 2,29,847 foreign tourists visited the state. The next year, various places in the state saw the footfall of 3,82,20,077 domestic and 3,24,573 foreign tourists.
A master plan is being prepared for tourism development in Karnataka. Under Private-Public Participation model, several hotels are constructed in places like Aihole, Pattadakal, Badami, Malpe, Sringeri and Mangalore. The Corporation will take over those hotels once its manpower increases.
KSTDC is building 48 cottages in Ooty at an estimated cost of `10-15 crore on 14 acre land belonging to the Government of Karnataka. An old guest house in Ooty, is being restored at a cost of `2.27 crore. The Muzarai Department is also planning to sign an MoU with the KSTDC to jointly construct 512 rooms in Kukke Subramanya, a famous shrine in Dakshina Kannada.
The Muzarai Department approached the KSTDC when the latter submitted a letter to deputy commissioner of Dakshina Kannada seeking allotment of land to build 50 rooms.
Discussions were on over the contribution of money towards the construction of guest houses in Kukke Subramanya, sources confirmed.
After Mysore, the second preferred place is Shravanabelagola, with 14, 38, 635 domestic and 41,773 foreign tourists visiting the shrine. The third place is for Hampi, which is one among the few world heritage sites identified by the UNESCO.