RV Deshpande, Minister for Large & Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, talks about Karnataka’s growing popularity as a tourism destination and policies to help further this.
There is a dire need to promote infrastructure development in the country for other sectors to thrive. Addressing the audience at FHRAI’s 52nd Annual Convention held in Bengaluru, RV Deshpande, Minister for Large & Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, said, “Tourism is the highest employment generator. No sector can add as much employment as tourism can. India’s biggest concern is still employment as automation, digitalisation and robotics are replacing human beings. The world has become competitive, and quality and consumer satisfaction have become the order of the day. We hope that by 2025, India will have the largest young population in the world.
Infrastructure must also improve. Karnataka is one of the best-connected states in the country vis-à-vis national and district highways. As far as Karnataka is concerned, tourism is our thrust sector. In the last four years, we have strived to improve roads for better connectivity for tourism. Karnataka has always been a visionary state. The budget for tourism in Karnataka has brought about rich dividends. Footfalls have increased and we are one of the top five states in the country leading in tourism.”
Tourism for the common man
A new wave of travel has taken over the world and more people are getting hooked to this fast-paced trend. “There was a time when tourism was restricted to a certain section of the society, only the well-off could have the benefit. Today, tourism has reached the common people. They all want to travel with their families, so now when we develop tourism, we need to see the needs of those people as well. Infrastructure remains the key for any development be it economic, social or any other,” added Deshpande.
Relax CRZ norms and improve security
Tourism in coastal states has not grown much. Reiterating this thought, Deshpande said, “I remember the Union government was seriously considering relaxation of CRZ norms. I was a part of that. It will give a boost to tourism in the South. Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala would benefit. If beach resorts can come up 15, 20 or 30 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL), why do we restrict them to 250 metres? I think the matter needs to be taken up once more. Relaxation of CRZ norms will give a boost to tourism in the entire area. Security in tourism, especially for women, is another area of concern. In Karnataka, we have taken a lot of initiatives to achieve this.”
Karnataka for tourism and investment
Promoting tourism doesn’t come easy and every minute detail needs to be looked over. It is essential that the building blocks of the sector are strengthened along with identification of realms that hold potential. Addressing a rapt audience, Deshpande said, “Successive governments in Karnataka have been friendly to the industry and supported investments. We brought Karnataka Tourism Infrastructure Limited on the fast track, supported facilities at tourist destinations and facilitated PPP models. We wanted to develop Cauvery, Mysuru, Pandya, Chamunda Nagar, and Guru among others. The Cauvery Tourism Development Authority has also been formed to develop tourism along the Cauvery belt. We also brought The Karnataka Tourism Trade (Facilitation and Regulation) Act, 2015 to bring more investment in tourism; most states do not have this.
Another area of concern is that of guides. Since we did not have professional guides, we selected a few and trained them in foreign languages. The industry must look into this. If we have good human resources in terms of guides, security and road officials, tourism will flourish.”
“There was a time in 1995-96 when I used to go for roadshows in the UK and speak about Karnataka and its capital city, Bengaluru. Today, Bengaluru is recognised as one of the most dynamic cities of the world. It is the biggest R&D centre with more than 500 international companies carrying out research here. Now, whenever I travel abroad, I no longer have to explain to others which part of the country Bengaluru belongs to. Karnataka has all kinds of tourism opportunities and the richest potential. It has eco-tourism, medical tourism, beach tourism and spiritual tourism. We don’t have snow, but we can create that as well,” said Deshpande while speaking about the popularity that the city as well as the state have garnered over the past years.
- Relaxation of CRZ norms will give a boost to tourism in the entire area
- It will give a boost to tourism in the South