K'taka Tourism Dept mulls 'privatisation' of properties

Karnataka Tourism Dept mulls 'privatisation' of properties for better occupancy 

Anand Singh allayed the fears that the properties be sold to private players

Tourism Minister Anand Singh. Credit: DH photo

Struggling to overcome the losses triggered by the Covid pandemic and ensure maximum occupancy of travellers at all its establishments, the tourism department is mulling to rope in private players to run some of the tourist facilities across Karnataka including Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) run facilities.

Holding a review meeting of the tourism department on Thursday after assuming charge as tourism minister a couple of days ago, Anand Singh told media persons that the department is discussing the possibility of privatising government tourism properties including KSTDC hotels and JLR facilities.

"The state government alone can not develop all the facilities and we can not expect that it should allocate funds in the budget. Instead, we should earn the revenue and spend the same on maintaining the staff and facilities. In my own district, there is a JLR facility near to Hampi. In a few meters distance, there is also private property. While we struggled to fill even 80 per cent, the private property at the same time would have had 80 per cent bookings. We want to address these problems. If we rope in private players, without selling off the properties, on a profit-sharing basis, we can turn around the situation," the minister explained.

Singh also allayed the fears that the properties be sold to private players. "We (government) will retain the ownership and only the management will be entrusted to private persons. Also, the idea is still in the discussion stage. Privatisation does not mean we sell off government properties for some kickback," the minister explained. He also said that they are yet to discuss whether the plan is executed on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model or invite interest by calling global tenders.

The minister and officials also discussed the possibility of handing over 'Yatri Nivas' properties of the tourism department to the Religious Endowment (Muzrai) department as most of them are attached to the temples belonging to the department. Besides, the department has also agreed to divert Rs 70 to Rs 80 crore budget earmarked for publicity for the development of basic infrastructure at top 10 tourism places.

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