The number of tourists visiting Karnataka declined for the second consecutive year in 2009. Tourists arrivals declined to 3.31 crore in 2009 from 3.80 crore in 2008, a decline of nearly 13 per cent.
Karnataka, which is hard selling its tourist destinations both in the domestic and international markets, witnessed a decline in the growth rate for the first time in 2008 when recession hit the industry, bringing the number of visitors to the State from about 3.88 crore in 2007 to 3.80 crore, a decline of 2.06 per cent, according to figures recently released by the Tourism Department to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
In fact, the number of tourists who visited the State in 2009 was far lower than that registered in 2006 when 3.72 crore tourists visited the State. The decline has been attributed to the recession and the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 and the A (H1N1) influenza scare in 2009.
The last time such a drastic decline happened was when the numbers fell from 1.42 crore in 2001 to 87 lakh in 2002 due to drought, and law and order problem arising out of the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Industry sources acknowledge that the decline had been sharp and felt across all sections of the industry. According to M. Ravi of Arjun Tours and Travels, problems for the industry continued in 2009, and travel and hospitality sections did well only after the Dasara holidays. However, he said, the beginning of this year had been relatively good.
Similar sentiments were echoed by sources in Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC). “The summer holiday months were extremely good and we hope things will remain the same,” sources added.
Meanwhile, acknowledging the decline in the number of tourists to Karnataka, Tourism Department Director Vishwanatha Reddy said it was part of a national phenomenon. He, however, pointed out that the first five months of 2010 had shown a growth of about 10 to 15 per cent over the corresponding period in 2009.