Palace Board statistics show drop in number of tickets sold
Is the tourism sector in Mysore stagnating since the last two years and its dream of luring nearly five million visitors by 2020 a fantasy ?
The question assumes relevance in the light of declining number of tourists visiting Mysore, based on statistics gleamed from the Palace Board, which maintains a record of the number of tickets sold for entry to the palace. This is a reliable yardstick to assess tourist inflow as it is widely perceived that no first-time visitor will skip the palace.
As per Palace Board statistics, the total number of visitors during the financial year 2013-14 was 32,47,746; a drop from the 33,00,452 tourists who visited the palace during the previous financial year, 2012-13. The city’s tourism sector peaked in 2011-12, when the economy was on the downturn. Fuelled by domestic visitors who found foreign travel beyond their budget, Mysore palace received a record 35,20,112 tourists.
So from a high of nearly 3.5 million tourists, the numbers have fallen to 3.2 million tourists during 2013-14. This is definitely a cause for concern, notwithstanding the fact that Mysore continues to receive hordes of visitors during Dasara.
Observers like K.S. Nagapathi, Director, Mahajana Tourism Development Institute, pointed out that the turnout during Dasara is not a barometer to assess buoyancy in the tourism sector in the city as the crowd tends to be a mix of locals as well as tourists.
What matters is the occupancy rates in hotels in the city and the number of days the tourists stay in Mysore, because it is their spending pattern which has a cascading impact on the local economy.
Prof. Nagapathi, who recently released a comprehensive guide on tourism in Karnataka, said it was imperative to take the tourism sector seriously because of the promising returns and the potential to create direct and indirect employment, create ancillary industries and give a boost to the overall economy of Mysore.
“No doubt Mysore has plenty to offer and people enjoy visiting the palace, zoo, Brindavan Gardens, Chamundi Hills, St. Philomena’s Church, Srirangapatana and Ranganathittu Bird Santuary. But the need of the hour is to identify fresh tourism circuits, promote new destinations and ensure that Mysore emerges as the base to explore places of tourist interest in a radius of 80 km to 120 km, so as to cover Bandipur, Nagarahole, Kodagu, Belur-Halebidu, Shravanabelagola and even Ooty and Wayanad,” he added.