Karnataka has always been the go-to destination for both leisure as well as business. M Ravindran, Managing Director, Arjun Tours & Travels Pvt Ltd, talks about how the state will flourish as tourist destination despite the Covid-19 situation.
As a veteran in the industry, how do you evaluate Karnataka as a Travel Product. What are the new products you recommend?
Karnataka has got everything to offer. From adventure, to wildlife, the longest coastline, pilgrimage, hill stations and historical sights.
“Except for snowfall, we have it all” Which our former tourism minister Mr Deshpande would comment.
Where we lack is in our ability to promote and market this gold mine.
1. The coastal circuit which is completely neglected
2. The Historical circuit
3. Experiential Tours
4. Culture & Cuisine
5. Walking or Cycle Tours
6. Regular weekend cultural programs
There are a lot of recommendations that can be made, but they require to be administered into the bloodstream of our Tourism Industry.
What are the trends you foresee in the coming season for Dasara and Diwali seasons for Karnataka?
With the present situation, it’s pretty bleak. We don’t expect tourists coming in from other states and can only foresee tourists from within Karnataka. Weekend getaways and short trips will flourish. Bangalore is a good market and we can expect a good number of IT professionals travelling to different parts of the State.
You have done a lot of work promoting safe travel. What are the inputs you would like to share for the travel-trade in Karnataka with regard to safety to guests and passengers?
As for inputs, the first exercise what we did at Arjun Tours on June 8th when the lockdown was lifted was a training program for approximately 40-50 chauffeurs regarding safe travel, hygiene, driving skills, customer interaction and etiquette. We have also equipped the car with all safety measures like hand sanitisers, masks, disinfectant sprays & wipes and temperature guns. This is now our new normal in terms of travel.
The speakers at our training program were Mr. Kumar Pushkar (MD. KSTDC), Mr Cherian Ramapuram (Executive Director, Evolve Back), Ms Loveleen Multani (Director, Panache) and Mr. Radhakrishna Holla (President, Karnataka State Travel Operative Association).
What are the key markets Karnataka should focus on?
With the pandemic looming over our heads, the key market that Karnataka should focus on are domestic tourists.
Road shows, FAM tours, Travel Writers, bloggers and social media influencers can help promote our destinations.
What more has to be done to promote domestic tourism? What are the support you wish from the Karnataka Government in making the state one of the most popular destinations in the country?
The government should regularly promote Karnataka as a Tourist Destination. Perhaps we ought to take a leaf out of the Kerala and Gujarat Tourism marketing strategies.
Recently Karnataka Tourism Forum (KTF) had organised a destination promotion at Chikmagalur where we had invited 50 top agents from different states, provided them with complementary accommodation, food and transport to experience Chikmagalur. It was a grand success.
Arjun Tours and Travels has brought approximately 300 agents (over the past few years) from Gujarat, Mumbai and Pune to Karnataka on FAM tours to promote this destination. I request the Government to follow a similar model.
A few other pointers that can be incorporated are:
1. Neat toilets at Tourism Destinations is a must.
2. Qualified guides at all historical sites are required.
3. Promote unexplored destinations within new & revised itineraries.