Apropos the letter titled ‘Refrain from excess tourism in Mysuru’ by A. Shivaprakash (SOM dated Oct. 30). The world is in an unprecedented period of tourism growth and not everyone is happy about it. A report says that in 2030 there will be around 1.8 billion tourists in the world, thanks to cheap flights, cruises and mass tourism, cheaper home-sharing platforms etc., and a burst of tourists especially from countries like China, India and the Gulf nations. Countries that suffer currency devaluation are extremely susceptible to a tourism rush.
Unlimited, disrespectful excess tourism can tear apart the very cities that benefit from it, alienating residents and causing irreversible damage to their culture. Authorities have often made economic growth spurred by tourists’ spending a priority at the expense of quality of life for locals.
There are ‘Responsible Tourism’ protests across Europe now as places like Barcelona, Venice etc., have been transformed by the visitors. The locals in these cities hate tourists and tourists get to see “Tourist you are the terrorist”, “Tourist go home” graffiti. Locals, because of tourist nuisance and unaffordable house rents have been forced to shift to other locations.
Hollywood film ‘The Beach’, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, was shot in once perfect Maya Bay in Thailand. Since then millions of tourists started visiting this beach. Experts now say that 80 percent of Maya Bay’s coral is at serious risk mainly from damage by boat anchors. It is closed now indefinitely and it will take years for the reef to be fully restored. Some of our beaches in Goa are over-crowded and have been degraded because of over-tourism. For sustainable tourism and to protect their assets, countries like Rwanda now charge a whopping 1,500 dollars per person per hour for a gorilla-watching permit in the Volcanoes National Park!
Mysuru may suffer over-tourism in near future, what with our Chief Minister and Tourism Minister announcing projects like Disneyland in Brindavan Gardens, in spite of the granddaughter of G.H. Krumbiegel, an architect of the Gardens, opposing such an ill-conceived and ill-advised idea. They also want to hold cultural and other programmes in Mysuru throughout the year. Imagine the impact and the traffic during the weekends then. Once Garden City, Bengaluru was destroyed by excess industrialisation/tourism and people call it now as Garbage City. One dreads to go there because of the traffic chaos. The next nearest destination on the hit-list is our dear Mysuru.
We want Mysuru to remain that way and therefore we should not meddle with our tourist spots. Providing clean toilets and other basic facilities is all that we should do, as Shivaprakash rightly suggests. Planners should concentrate on developing other tourist attractions outside Mysuru.
Over-tourism can be dealt with: 1. Dispersing tourists to less popular attractions; 2. Developing new tourists spots (so why can’t Disneyland be somewhere in North Karnataka?); 3. Encouraging visitors outside of peak times; 4. Government resources need to be devoted to ‘sustainable tourism.’
Ultimately, residents must be prioritised over tourists and must be at the centre of decision-making. To quote Xavier Font, “Cities are not the playgrounds of tourists. We only want them because they make the city more liveable for residents.” So, every Mysurean should be on guard; prevent and oppose excess tourism and should know that Mysuru is a Heritage City. And who, after all, wants our city to be another Barcelona or Venice?
– Mubasher Mirza, Bannimantap C Layout, 31.10.2018
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