Tourism, gone with the wind
Columns

Tourism, gone with the wind

July 25, 2019

By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC

A recent news item says it all: “A sharp dip in the foreigners visiting Mysuru.” A drop of 50 percent !   Alarm bells should be ringing all over  but no one is bothered. Our former Tourism Minister S.R. Mahesh was more busy visiting the Mysore Race Club (MRC) and keen on converting that sprawling land into a Botanical Garden or making a Fancy Disneyland in the Brindavan  Gardens. Thank God for some sane voices, the lease of the MRC got extended for 30 more years. We are safe from the power-brokers and land-sharks for three decades at least.

Mysore Race Club is a rich body with plenty of funds. Why is that they do not bother to give a facelift to the exterior of the building which is an eyesore? Broken tiles, uneven footpath, unpainted walls, closed and broken windows, the list is long.  

The flow of domestic tourists has not abated and is on increase. Who is bothered about the economy of the district? How will hundreds of  high-end hotels, shops, hawkers, taxis etc., survive on domestic traffic which is basically cheap tourism. I have written on this subject  many a times.

For any tourism destination to survive and thrive, we require a certain portion of tourists to be elite and high class. Ideal ratio is 30 high paying tourists to 70 economy tourists. Slowly but steadily, the high paying tourists have started to vanish from this city and this was filled up by cheap foreign tourists. But the  current report suggests that even this class of foreign tourists are giving this city a miss.  If this trend continues sure we will be out of International Tourism  Market in a few years down the line.

READ ALSO  DC chairs District Tourism Dev. Committee meeting

Fifteen years back as General Manager of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel I could command a price of Rs.4,500 for a room  and when now in 2019  if  one could get a room at a top 5-Star Hotel in town for Rs. 3,000-4,000, the writing on the wall is clear.

Air connectivity is a major issue and thanks to the efforts of our MP Pratap Simha, the number of flights to the city is going up but still in smaller planes. The  basic issue of Mysore Airport is that there is no guaranteed flight timings. International tourists plan their holidays years in advance and how can they plan any trips to Mysuru by air unless there are definite flight timings. With the Airport                                             runway expansion yet to take off due to bureaucratic wranglings, regular airlines are not able to enter this market.

Another major hurdle for tourism is the high and unreasonable tax on tourist vehicles in this State. Imagine for a car valued at Rs. 6 lakh, one would have to pay a tax of 14 percent of the value cost, as per the Karnataka Vehicles Act, 1957 !

I do not agree with some experts who want a more visible “night life” in Mysuru! No tourist, international or domestic, come to Mysuru to enjoy night life! There are enough tourist destinations in India which offer such a fare. What we require is that the present infrastructure be maintained and marketed well.

Our well-known tourist spot of Devaraja Market is in a bad shape and the Government is still undecided on the future of this market. Sometimes the Government has to take hard decisions which may not please all.

READ ALSO  Kannur Airport to boost tourist arrivals to Mysuru, Kodagu

With great fanfare our Maharaja was made the “Brand Ambassador” of this city. What next? No one has a clue. Of course, with no stable Government, how can one expect any governance or plan of action? Tourism  is the last priority in Karnataka for ages and the same trend is continuing even now.

Dasara is fast approaching. For the event, one has to plan at least 6 months in advance.  What will happen in the last minute? The same Committee will be formed, the same ideas and a repeat performance of last year’s jamboree. If only a permanent Committee was in place, as suggested  by many  experts, they would have gone ahead planning, leaving the execution to a later stage.

What is being done to promote Yoga in this city? On a single day, that is the Yoga Day, all the Officials, Yoga Experts, Swamijis join and have a big   event in the Race Course and forget about Yoga for the rest 364 days. If Mysuru is getting  Yoga students  year-by-year it is just because of the reputation of our Yoga Schools internationally, and not because of any dismal marketing done by our Tourism Department.

As I was writing this, I read a news. Rs. 97 crore was earmarked for developing Coastal Tourism by Government of India [Swadesh Darshan]. When all our neighbouring States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have submitted projects and got the sanctioned  grant, our  Department of Tourism did not even submit any project reports to the Centre! All the coastal regions could have benefited  with these funds. Sheer negligence.

I am a proud Mysurean and feel happy only when I visit other cities like Bengaluru, because in comparison, Mysuru is still better off. But international tourists will be completely off this city in near future unless we buck up and make concrete efforts to bring  them back. Do you agree?  [[email protected]]

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Tourism, gone with the wind”

  1. Arun says:

    I fully agree with your views. I wonder what is KSTDC (does it still exist???) doing? Keeping Mysore clean and pleasant goes a long way to attract foreign tourists. Sprucing up the Palace, Race Course, Devaraja Market and Zoo could be a starter. I fully agree that just having a namesake brand ambassador with no power and planning would help promote tourism. A futuristic thinking planning committee with power to organize and implement plans would help.
    I love Mysore and call it my home and wish you all the very best.
    Arun

  2. Subbukrishna says:

    I am a Myosrean and have traveled all over the world .Lets be very honest : Mysore is a good heritage city ,but by no means a world class city. Unless we improve the connectivity , cleanliness etc ,Mysore stand no chance . In the developed world , high end tourists would rather visit Greece ,Itlay or Africa etc rather than the overpriced Indian cities .

ABOUT

Mysuru’s favorite and largest circulated English evening daily has kept the citizens of Mysuru informed and entertained since 1978. Over the past 41 years, Star of Mysore has been the newspaper that Mysureans reach for every evening to know about the happenings in Mysuru city. The newspaper has feature rich articles and dedicated pages targeted at readers across the demographic spectrum of Mysuru city. With a readership of over 2,50,000 Star of Mysore has been the best connection between it’s readers and their leaders; between advertisers and customers; between Mysuru and Mysureans.

CONTACT

Academy News Papers Private Limited, Publishers, Star of Mysore & Mysuru Mithra, 15-C, Industrial ‘A’ Layout, Bannimantap, Mysuru-570015. Phone no. – 0821 249 6520

To advertise on Star of Mysore, email us at

Online Edition: [email protected]
Print Editon: [email protected]
For News/Press Release: [email protected]