‘Belur, Halebid are well on their way to being recognised as World Heritage Sites'

The State Government will soon receive funds of Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 crore from the Union Government for the development of heritage sites at Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole, the Principal Secretary, Tourism Department, N.C. Muniyappa, has said.

Speaking about a seven-point agenda to give tourism in the State a facelift, Mr. Muniyappa said the funds were “nearly sanctioned”.

He also said that Belur and Halebid, the twin temple towns, were “well on their way” to being recognised as World Heritage Sites.

On the anvil

Interacting with members of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry here on Tuesday, Mr. Muniyappa said that that were several plans on the anvil, including construction of 23 helipads in districts, thematic resorts and development of infrastructure.

The Government had identified 77 destinations — classified as internationally important, national-level and locally or regionally-relevant destinations — for development. “Our agenda includes ensuring last-mile connectivity, safe and hygienic drinking water, toilets and affordable accommodation. We will do this in collaboration with local authorities in each region,” he said. Members of the FKCCI also appealed to the Government to relax the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) regulations in order to “develop” beaches to increase tourist inflow.

For this, Mr. Muniyappa said that the Government had identified private lands and listed survey numbers. “In all, around 1,500 acres of land will be made available. Regarding the relaxation of CRZ regulations that do pose a major bottleneck, we will approach the Ministry of Environment and Forests and seek certain changes so we can have an investor-friendly environment.”

‘Provide opportunities'

The president of the FKCCI, J.R. Bangera, said there was an urgent need to utilise services of the youth in the sector. Referring to postgraduate programmes in tourism offered by several colleges, Mr. Bangera said that several more programmes should be started, and that employment opportunities or channels must be opened up for these students.

“It is disheartening to know that there are no takers for these courses. Something must be done to open up new avenues for those completing this course.”