By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
Mysuru region is dependant on tourism as the most important economic activity. Due to the pandemic, the worst hit is the tourism industry. All other industrial activities are slowly picking up but tourism activity to pick will at least take one or two years, even to come to pre-covid levels. I have certain suggestions to our new DC Rohini Sindhuri, which if implemented with the help of tourism officials would go a long way to help revive this industry and make Mysuru a vibrant and new tourism destination.
1. It is important to “brand” Mysuru as either a “royal heritage destination” or a “sandalwood city” and then we have to focus all our energy in marketing the brand. Jaipur, another heritage destination, is branded and marketed as a pink city. All the Government buildings and the arches are painted in a single pink colour. Similarly, you can choose a colour and ask all the Government buildings to be painted in that one colour, like sandalwood.
2. Our Maharaja has been appointed as the brand ambassador of Mysuru. You should persuade the Tourism Department to appoint a top class agency to make 30 second films with our Maharaja in traditional dress, explaining various destinations in and around Mysuru like Melkote, Somanathapura, Nagarahole, etc., in English and Hindi. A classic example of this is of Amitabh Bachchan in traditional dress explaining Gujarat’s tourism spots.
These films can be shown in all the international fairs which our tourism officials attend every year without fail. These films can also be shown in our TV channels to get upmarket domestic tourists visit Mysuru. Royalty sells and fortunately Mysuru has a real Maharaja.
3. This year’s Dasara is a washout and is being held for the sake of being held. But for next year’s Dasara, try and persuade the Maharaja to be a part of the procession in his Silver Chariot along with 100 Policemen dressed in traditional Palace uniform with spears etc.
Reduce the number of tableaux to just 12. Let there be a competition among the districts and the best 12 to be chosen to be part of the parade. This concept is followed in the Republic Day Parade too. All the Ministries are asked to submit drawings of the tableau and a Committee of experts are asked to check these and select a dozen.
The same goes for folk dancers. Only the best 12 troupes with excellent uniforms to be part of the parade. It will be great if some vintage cars with Kannada film stars sitting on them can be a part of the procession to add glamour to the event.
4. Convince the CM to some how make a permanent Dasara Committee for 3 to 5 years. This Committee should also have some prominent citizens of the city along with the officials and the elected reps. Planning can start from January itself.
5. A decision to be taken on Devaraja Market and Lansdowne building. Either way there will be criticism but that is part of being a democracy.
6. Tourism Police with a distinctive uniform to be made a reality. These Policemen to be given one month training on various tourism spots of the district and to be posted near the tourism spots in and around Mysuru.
7. If it is possible, the Private Durbar can be sold much in advance to international and national clients. This will bring in high paying guests to Mysuru both domestic and international as at present Mysuru has become a cheap destination. Twenty years back Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel used to sell a room for Rs. 4,000 and even after 20 years, the rates is in the same bracket. Whereas a 5-star hotel in even a small destination like Kodagu sells for Rs. 12,000 and more.
8. A single event like Dasara is not sufficient for a tourist destination like Mysuru to survive. So it is important to have another annual event like an international spiritual and yoga festival somewhere in February or March, with active participation of Baba Ramdev, Suttur Swamiji, Sri Ravishankar Guruji, Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and all the international yoga centres. At present, we get about 4,000 yoga students a year and this can be doubled easily if this festival becomes a reality.
9. Convince the Maharaja to renovate or give Rajendra Vilas Palace Hotel atop Chamundi Hill on lease. Running a heritage hotel is not everyone’s cup of tea and it should be given to professional group only. Someone had sent me some pictures of the run down Palace and it is really shocking.
10. A welcome arch on all the four roads leading to Mysuru. The design should be the same as in the Palace Gate to ensure uniformity.
11. Last but not the least, upgradation of Brindavan Gardens. Talking of converting Brindavan Garden to a mini Disneyland at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,500 crore is not a viable solution but the Gardens can be redesigned with a modest Rs. 150 crore to Rs. 200 crore with the latest in dancing fountains, lasers and lighting. If a good dpr is prepared one can get funds for this project from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India who have plenty of funds and every year the funds go abegging for want of good projects.
In the nineties, Kerala tourism was also chugging along, till Amitabh Kant and Dr. Venu took over the reins of the Department of Tourism. Rest is history.
Just some random thoughts I have put across. I am sure the DC and team will have many more such ideas to improve the tourism infrastructure of this great city.