Tour operators want Mangaloreans to experience sights abroad and also develop the city as a tourism destination

With the opening of the Mangalore airport for international flights (the first flight is yet to arrive) various airlines are now looking at Mangalore as a tourist destination. But the first baby step was the 10-day Malaysian cultural and festival held at the Taj Manjuran that featured cultural and gastronomic talents from that country. "It could only be called a beginning of a glorious relationship with Mangalore and Malaysia," said Manoharan, Director, Tourism Malaysia, India. He told MetroPlus Malaysia received the highest number of Indian arrivals in 2005 at 225,789, an impressive growth of 30.5 percent over 2004. This event initiative was the first among the many planned by Tourism Malaysia to spread its wings to tier II cities.

Adventurous

"Indians have started developing a more adventurous approach towards cuisine and food festivals. They provide the perfect platform to indulge and savour the delicacies from different cultures. The festival in Mangalore would help people especially those wanting to visit the country."With the Mangalore airport now equipped to receive international charter flights and the boost the open sky policy is receiving from the government, Mangalore has now launched itself on the Charter flight routes, which extends from Jaipur, Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Kochi, Lakshadweep, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur to Sydney. Bookings on this route had always been busy, according international tour operators.The agents from North Indian destinations like Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and New Delhi are now showing interest in developing the `ethnic' tourism circuit of India where the tier II cities will be promoted.Raj Bhatra, international tourist agent from Delhi, who was in Mangalore along with a group of North Indian tour organisers, was keen on developing Mangalore as a ethnic tourism destination on the lines of Jaipur, Vadodara, Rajkot, Pune, Panaji, Ernakulum, Thiruvananthapuram, Tanjore, Madurai and some cities in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. M. RAGHURAM

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