Sharp dip in foreign tourists visiting Mysuru Palace

Foreigners visit during the inauguration of Flower Show at Amba Vilas Palace in Mysuru last year. DH-file photo

The tourist inflow to Mysuru, especially to the iconic Mysuru Palace, is on the increase over the years, however, there is a sharp decline in the number of foreign tourists to both Mysuru and the Mysuru Palace.

While the number of foreign nationals visiting the Palace in the year 2012-13 was 80,835, it started declining gradually, to 72,483; 69,758; 68,370; 64,614; 54,293 and finally, 48,022 in 2018-19, almost 50% dip.

Sheen lost

Shalva Pille Iyengar, assistant professor, Karnataka State Open University, said that in the early part of the 20th century, Mysuru was comparable to any of the best European cities, in terms of aesthetics, planning, cleanliness and hospitality, with a dash of Indianness — reflecting the true character of Mysuru.

“Due to commercialisation, the city has grown haphazardly, losing its character. Foreigners, especially those from the West, look for Indianness when they visit India. Now, Mysuru is like any other city in India. Why would the foreigners have Mysuru on their itinerary?” he asked.

However, Jayakumar, president of Mysuru Travel Mart, said that unlike in Kerala, Goa and Andhra Pradesh, the tax payable for vehicles, registered outside Karnataka, to enter the state is exorbitant.

Since 2007, a 12-seater maxi-cab is charged Rs 75 per head, 12 and above-seater category vehicles have to pay Rs 200. Special permit and contract carriages have to pay Rs 450 and Rs 1,500 per head respectively. For passenger vehicles, a car valued at Rs 6 lakh, would have to pay a tax at the rate of 14% of the vehicle cost, as per the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1957.

Jayakumar said that the Tourism department and the district administration has failed in marketing Mysuru on a global level. “The airport is not fully functional. The extension of the runway and upgradation of the airport is yet to take off. Connectivity to neighbouring tourist destinations is poor. Many foreign tourists visit the neighbouring states of Kerala and Goa. But, we have failed to attract them,” he said.

Harassment of tourists

Our government agencies harass tourists at check-posts and entry points, by intercepting the vehicles. One ticket system, to visit all tourist places in and around Mysuru, could not be realised.

Tickets to enter the Mysuru Palace cannot be bought online. Even websites of the Mysuru Palace and also Mysuru Tourism go into a slumber often, said C Narayanagowda, president of Mysuru Hotel Owners Association.

Night life

Some stakeholders in the tourism sector also complain that the lack of avenues for a vibrant night-life is a deterrent in attracting foreign tourists.

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