Karnataka and Rajasthan wooing domestic tourists

While Karnataka launched its road show here yesterday, Rajasthan Tourism is organising a two-day 'Mini Rajasthan Festival’ here. The first 6 months of 2010 has already shown an over 20 per cent increase in arrivals both domestic and international in Karnataka, according to Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) Managing Director, Vinay Luthra.

During the period, there were about 1.98 crore domestic arrivals against 1.43 crore in the same period the previous year. While 1.60 lakh foreign tourists visited the state in the first six months this year, against 0.96 lakh during the same period the previous year, he said, adding 'this was very encouraging as the tourist season was yet to begin'.

Karnataka which earlier was concentrating of Information Technology and BT, has realised the immense potential of tourism, he said. The budgetary allocation for tourism which was hardly about 15 crore five years ago was now Rs 250 crore, more than double of Kerala's allcoation to tourism.

As part of its tourism promotion campagin called 'Rajasthan Calling' Rajastahn Tourism is organising 'Mini festivals' in 19 major cities across the country, including Kochi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Patna, Kolkata, Lucknow and Chandigarh.

During the festival, Rajasthan's traditional culture, exquisite range of its handicraft products and Rajasthani delicacies would be showcased. Besides, live dances and a food court would be held, Vinod Ajmera, Additional Director, Department of Tourism, Rajasthan said.

About 25 stalls depicting the state's culture, handicrafts, including wooden toys from Bassi, Chittor, Terracota from Siaya, Stone Artefacts from Banswara, Zardozi work from Nyla village, Leather Bags, Jutis from Jodhpur and Shinmal, Tie & Die from Akola, Brass Nakkashi- Balahedi and Forest Products from Barna, he said.

"With 14.8 lakh foreign tourists and 283 lakh domestic tourist arrivals in year 2008, Rajasthan is easily one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in India', he said.

Rajasthan's popularity is primarily owing to its incredible tourism products its rich heritage, its forts, palaces, lakes, colourful and lively fairs and festivals, golden sand dunes and rich wild life, adventure sports, handicrafts, shopping, among other pullers,  Ajmera said.

Karnataka Tourism has signed an agreement with OSS Air Management Operations for Heli Tourism, which would start soon, Luthra said. Twenty-three helipads are being set up in district headquarters.

Country's first night time wildlife safari at Bannerghatta National Park, on the lines of Singapore, would take off in two years time, he said adding the government had set apart Rs 180 crore for the same.

A new brand of eco tourism experiences called 'Jungle Camps and Trails' has been launched and the 'Great Western Ghat Trails' would be launched soon, he said. From October, 'Silver Chariot' project in which tourists are taken on buses will take off. The trip will cover the route of the 'Golden chariot'. The tariffs would work out to Rs 3000 per person per night, he said.

Sanganakallu, a pre historic village near Hampi belonging to the neolithic age has been excavated and is being developed as a tourist destination that would be of interest to avid history buffs. This destination takes the visitors back to 8000 years ago. 'We found signs of paintings, a medicine factory where traditional medicines were made and a took factory', he said.

Karnataka Tourism has called for expression of interest for launching Cruise Tourism on the high seas of Karwar. It was also aiming to explore new markets of Japan, China, Spain and Scandinavia, he said.  There are also plans to undertake international roadshows at London, Paris, Frankfurt.

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