Karnataka

Downward slide in foreign tourist arrivals to Karnataka

Monsoon highlights Dark monsoon clouds lend a mystical touch to the ancient Virupaksha temple complex in Hampi on Saturday.

Monsoon highlights Dark monsoon clouds lend a mystical touch to the ancient Virupaksha temple complex in Hampi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Rachiah S.S.

Despite promising ‘One State, Many Worlds’ to visitors, fewer foreign tourists have chosen to explore what Karnataka has to offer over the years.

Data from the Economic Survey of Karnataka for 2018-19 shows that foreign tourist arrivals to the State has been dropping over the last few years.

From 6,36,498 foreign tourist arrivals in 2015, the number came down to 4,45,555 in 2018 (provisional), according to the survey. This year’s number was not only lower than last year’s 4,98,148 arrivals, but also lower compared to 5,20,041 arrivals in 2008.

The report points out that the growth of tourism is directly proportional to tourist arrivals and a higher number of arrivals will create more economic activities, generate employment, and other social facilities.

“The impact is measurable at a particular destination, comparing it with its previous position. Road connectivity, electrical connection, water supply, handicrafts, and various other related sectors also improve in a particular destination,” the report said.

However, referring to the “sustained promotional activity of the Tourism Department”, the report says that tourist inflow is expected to “increase substantially” in the coming years.

It also mentions the Tourism Policy for 2015-20 meant for “integrated development of tourism” and recommendations of the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group report, and says more investment is expected from the private sector or under PPP.

‘Renewed thrust needed’

Sanjar Imam, president, Karnataka Tourism Forum (KTF), said foreign tourist arrivals or leisure travel has gone down, but corporate/business travel arrivals are still high. “What is required is a renewed thrust to promote Karnataka’s visibility by marketing destinations and getting people aware of what is there. It needs to be a bigger campaign than what it is right now, and just participating in marts is not enough. There needs to be a focussed approach over a sustained period of time,” he said.

Downward slide in foreign tourist arrivals to Karnataka
 

Destination-wise, Mr. Imam said Hampi was the “gem” which, like all UNESCO sites, attracts attention, apart from Mysuru, Kodagu, and Chikkamagaluru.

“The coastal belt can be a huge attraction given that we have a 400-km coastline, but infrastructure is lacking there. It can be a big draw for foreign tourists,” he added.

The biggest markets for Karnataka are from countries which have business interests in the State, he said. The United States of America comes first, followed by the United Kingdom, with friends and families of expatriates visiting. The State attracts tourists from Germany and France too, he said.

“Trade fairs are about B2B prospects. We need to go more visible in print and on television. Karnataka should also look at destinations to where there are direct flights,” Mr. Imam added.

‘Strategy being formed’

However, Priyanka Mary Francis, Director, Department of Tourism, said the government was in the process of forming a strategy to identify shortfalls and look into how to attract more tourists. “We have hired a consultant to give a strategy for the next few years with actionable points. We have also been doing national and international road shows to make our presence felt. A brand campaign is also about to be launched in print and on TV, along with upgrading social media as part of overall renovation,” she said.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 7:55:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/downward-slide-in-foreign-tourist-arrivals-to-karnataka/article26288441.ece

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