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August 09, 2011
 
Karnataka Hopes To Invite Maximum Visitors This Year


Night safari, hot-air ballooning, heli-tours, and a booming tiger population to be major attractions  

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ws090811TOURISM.asp

09 August 2011

Avesta Choudhary, New Delhi:


Amidst all the political turmoil that the Karnataka government has gone through this year the tourism sector in the state is growing like never before. According to Karnataka state tourism director, K Vishwanatha Reddy, the state witnessed 3.29 crore tourists in the year before last. Out of all the tourists 3.5 lakh were foreigners.

The number increased to 3.85 crore last year out of which 3.5 to 4 lakh tourists were from outside India. According to the director, the increase in the number of visitors this year is the highest.

According to data based on the months of January to June this year 4 and a half crore people have already visited the state out of which 3 and a half lakh were foreigners.

Talking about the flourishing travel sector, Reddy said, “I agree that the state has been disturbed with a lot of scams and changes that have taken place of late but the political turmoil is not going to prevent anyone from coming to Karnataka. People come to relax and spend their holidays in the beautiful state of Karnataka. Our state is still the toast of tourism industry.”

While the country is witnessing a fall in the tiger population Karnataka claims to be the only state which has witnessed an increase, this census. “During the last census, in the year 2001 the state had registered 260 to 280 tiger population, whereas the recent census recorded a total of 300 to 320 tigers this year,” said NB Tiwari, Managing Director, Jungle Lodges and Resorts said.

Sharing the revenue generated by the state government in the last few years he said, “Year before last we generated around Rs 180 crore from tourism, last year it was Rs 204 crore and this year we had already generated Rs 238 crore till June.”

Giving an idea on the increasing tourists in the state Reddy said, “Ours is the only state in the country to have participated in the international luxury travel marts held in Cannes and Shanghai.” Such participation has definitely helped increase the number of foreign tourists in the state. “We usually have maximum tourists coming from UK, US, Germany, France and Spain but now there are people from Brazil, Argentina and Japan,” he added.

The tourism department has taken up a few initiatives to attract more visitors. Hot–air ballooning, heli-tourism, jungle lodges and resort, night safari and international golf courses are some of the activities that will be announced by November. The state will host an international hot balloon festival from November29-31 in Mysore, Hampi and Bidar.

While new initiatives are being launched, a few promises made by the previous tourism minister are still to be fulfilled, helicopter tourism is a case in point. Defending the old initiative, tourism director, K Vishwanatha Reddysaid, “Heli–tourism is ready to be inaugurated. Once the monsoon is over after September it will be operational,” he added.