BANGALORE: Karnataka tourism's rise in terms of state expenditure on tourism as well as its aggressive branding has resulted in a much higher number of tourist arrivals, both domestic and internationally. K Viswanatha Reddy, Director, Tourism, Government of Karnataka speaks to Vyas Sivanand about their strategy, which helped them in propelling their allocation, marketing activity and tourist arrival numbers.
From 2009 to 2011, the state has seen a massive jump in their ranking in many surveys that have been conducted. How did the department manage to achieve this feat?
It is a result of our two-pronged approach. One approach was to provide all the necessary infrastructure to the tourists right from sanitary facilities, drinking water, providing proper connectivity, signage, security through Green police etc. The second approach was to embark on an aggressive campaign in several markets within India and abroad. As a result, we were able to make inroads into new markets like Scandinavia, Latin American countries, Japan and China.
We have been concentrating on entering the luxury segment of international market through participation in international luxury events and shows.
This has led to recognition of our brand in a big way. In terms of the domestic market, we have conducted roadshows in about 11 potential cities of India. We have participated in all trade fairs and exhibitions related to travel and tourism in the last 2-3 years.
Another reason for the big jump was encouraging and hosting FAM trips for tour operators, travel agents, travel writers, travel photographers, publishers etc. As a result, we were featured in most travel magazines in Europe, America and Latin America.
The state has been divided into zones in the tourism policy 2009-2014. What is the idea behind this division?
In the policy, the state has been divided into zones mainly to offer them incentives and concessions for investment in tourism.
In these five zones we provide incentives including cash subsidies ranging from 10-35 per cent depending on the location.
The state has two world heritage sites in the list of UNESCO- Hampi and Pattadakal. What efforts are being undertaken by the Department for continuous development of these sites?
We are looking at a comprehensive overall development of these destinations.
Though a lot has been done, there is much more to do in years to come. The State as well as the Central government have been very encouraging especially by way of providing funds. For Hampi, we received ` 83 crore for overall development of different components in different stages in the last 2-3 years.
As for Pattadakal-Badami-Aihole, we have sent a proposal to the Government of India for a sanction of ` 146 crore which is likely to be approved in the current financial year.
What was the budget allocation for the year 2011-12? What is the expectation from 2012-13 budget?
The budget during the year 2011-12, after an additional allocation by the State government was Rs 255 crore. We are definitely expecting a sharp increase in the 2012-13 budget.