Our Minister wants to implement his vision both on Tourism and Sericulture but who is going to implement his vision? The same tired lot of government servants who do not have any new ideas or vision ! First and foremost, the Minister should form a Core Team of officials, starting from a dynamic Secretary (Tourism). The team should have officials with creative bent of mind and some idea on tourism. Once the team is in place, the Minister can start implementing his vision.
By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
Open any newspaper, our Minister for Tourism and Sericulture S.R. Mahesh’s sound bytes are prominently printed. Tourism was always a low-key Ministry in Karnataka, a God-gifted State. But it looks like we have, for a change, a Minister who revels in giving press conferences every day.
Every year without fail during the festivals of Dasara and Hampi, the Ministry of Tourism wakes up, issues instructions to the local officials, fund it and forget about it for another year. They are very happy to rehash the same festival year after year with no flair or imagination. Of course, the officials do not miss the foreign jaunts to the various Travel Marts abroad, a small perk of the seat.
The amount of works and projects the Tourism Minister wants to do in a short time, looks as if the Minister is in a hurry? On top of this he has trained his guns at the Mysore Race Club (MRC), asking them to vacate their premises peacefully and shift to another venue outside the city. MRC is a rich club and expecting them to vacate the premises without a legal fight is too naive.
Pray, what is to be done with the prime land ? Botanical Gardens ! Every Minister worth his salt will want a piece of this cake and in the end this open lung space of Mysuru will become another concrete jungle. Just have a look at some of the prominent heritage buildings in town like Town Hall, Lansdowne building, Devaraja Market, Brindavan Gardens, etc? Such poor and shoddy maintenance. Only two tourist attractions are professionally managed. First, is the Mysore Palace and the second is the Mysuru Zoo. The lesser I talk about the wanton destruction of Chamundi Hill, better it is. I am afraid, in another two decades, this Hill area will also become another “Malabar Hills,” a posh layout for the rich.
As I opened the paper, I saw another statement from our Minister regarding the promotion of a new concept of Tent Tourism in front of Lalitha Mahal Palace. Excellent idea, no doubt. But who is going to implement it? Are the logistics required for fixing the tents like level grounds, electric and water connections, marketing strategy ready? There is a wrong perception that tent accommodations are cheap. No, they are not and specially if one has to have water-proof tents, it is expensive. Unless it is marketed well in advance, it will be difficult to sell. Jungle Lodges & Resorts have their hands full in managing Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel at present and it will be very difficult for them to manage the logistics if the tents have to come up before Dasara. Forewarned.
The Minister wants to implement his vision both on Tourism and Sericulture but who is going to implement his vision? The same tired lot of government servants who do not have any new ideas or vision ! First and foremost, the Minister should form a Core Team of officials, starting from a dynamic Secretary (Tourism). The team should have officials with creative bent of mind and some idea on tourism. Once the team is in place, the Minister can start implementing his vision.
I have a few suggestions, often repeated, with a fervent hope that some politician or official pay attention and implement them.
- Welcome arches on the existing arch design on all the four roads leading to Mysuru. Since Mysuru is being marketed as a heritage city, this is essential.
- Try to convince the Prince to be the Brand Ambassador of Mysuru.
- Rename this city as “Sandalwood City” and paint the government buildings with a same uniform sandalwood colour. This will give a brand perception to the city. Easy to sell like Jaipur which is called the Pink City because all the government buildings are painted pink.
- Dasara procession to be shortened but the quality of the procession to be improved. Quality folk dancers and tableaux along with 200 Policemen dressed in traditional attire to accompany Ambari to give this procession a heritage look.
- A vintage car show to go along the route.
- Private Durbar of the Prince to be marketed and sold upmarket.
- “Tea with the Prince,” a concept to be marketed. This can be a weekly affair.
- Palace tours to be marketed. I have discussed in detail with T.S. Subramanya, Dy. Director of Mysore Palace Board, who is also keen to implement this, subject to getting the government nod. This will ensure that tourists who come to Mysuru stay on for an extra night.
- Airport expansion works to be expedited. We have to negotiate with the travel agents from Goa to start the charter extensions to Mysuru.
- The Board of Control for Cricket in India (Bcci) wants approx. 50 acres of land to build a Cricket Stadium. If even two matches are held here in a year, the TV exposure one gets will boost the tourism multi-fold.
- Local tours which include visit to the Silk factory and wooden carving centres will boost the sales of these products. Local travel agents like Bharath International Travels (BIT) were ready but due to lukewarm reception from the earlier officials, this idea had to be shelved.
- Intelligent lighting of all the important heritage monuments of the city.
- Annual international yoga festival. At present we get about 5,000 students to Mysuru and this can easily be doubled if yoga is properly marketed. Though we claim that we are the yoga capital of India, the Ministry of Tourism thinks it is Rishikesh!
- Hawkers Market. All important tourist destinations have this facility, an employment generator.
- We have excellent hospitals. They have to join hands, form a lobby and try for getting more medical tourists to Mysuru.
- The existing brochures available with the Tourism Department is substandard. The Ministry of Tourism has to commission a top-class photographer to click the new vibrant Mysuru and new brochures/maps to be printed.
- Lesser known destinations around Mysuru like Melukote, Talakad, Somnathpur, Gaganachukki-Bharachukki Falls etc., to be marketed.
Mysuru can only be sold as a heritage destination and for that to happen we have to have the royalty on board. It is time, our Minister mediates in this matter and try to get the royalty to participate in marketing this city.