While domestic travel is booming, it’s a long road ahead to bring in foreign tourists to Karnataka
Now that the days of pandemic and limited travel are behind, Tourism Departments of several States are upping their game to attract more tourists. While tourism as an industry has seen a steady few good days, there are still a few areas which demand plenty of improvement.
In the last year, though domestic travel has boomed in Karnataka, the number of foreign tourists has not picked up. While a senior official of the Tourism Department agreed that there were very few foreign tourists, other stakeholders pointed out that most of the international tourists who arrive in the State belong to the corporate crowd, with Bengaluru being the centre of the visit.
“We are only seeing corporate traffic when it comes to international travellers in the State. In the coming days, we need to promote Karnataka internationally, market it as a State and showcase it as a long-term tourist destination,” said Sanjar Imam, president, Karnataka Tourism Forum.
The senior official said that corporate travellers should also be considered as tourists and the transformation of Bengaluru as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destination is the reason for this influx. They further said that after successful roadshows in Spain, Milan and Paris, the department will next go to Berlin to bring in more foreign tourists.
Time to shine
Experts believe that promotion of the State as a tourist destination would also require the development of off-beat destinations and also dividing the attention of tourists from a bunch of popular places to other districts in the State. Marketing of certain places as alternatives to already popular places will reduce crowding while adding more places to the itineraries, they said.
“Sakleshpur, which is also a coffee land, could gain more tourists in the coming days instead of Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu. It still has the charm of being quaint while also having good accessibility from Bengaluru. With the new airport, Shivamogga could also be developed with the theme of Malnad and Malgudi Days nostalgia,” Mr. Imam explained.
New airports coming up under the Udaan scheme are expected to aid the increase of tourists to the State. “The new airports in Hubballi, Belagavi and Kalaburagi will significantly help tourism. We expect the flights to run full. We can now see that hotels, resorts and homestays across State are doing well and there is some improvement in connectivity too,” said K. Syama Raju, president, Karnataka Tourism Society.
The department officials said that one of the major thrusts in tourism this year would be towards the development of coastal tourism. Other stakeholders also agreed that with the development of new resorts and the growing demand, the coastal belt especially in Udupi district needs to be promoted extensively.