India Tourism chalks out plans for Karnataka

India Tourism Bangalore office is rolling out several initiatives in 2021 to identify and promote the lesser-known destinations in Karnataka. Mohamed Farouk, Director, India Tourism, Bangalore, sheds light on various activities in the pipeline.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Karnataka is still seeing an inflow of tourists. What do you think is the reason for this?

Domestic tourism demand is surging and travellers want to go to nature-based destinations and wild life sanctuaries which are considered safer destinations in the vast outdoors. Karnataka has abundance of flora and fauna to quench the demand of travellers in the current scenario. Besides staycations and work from home which has been redefined into work from hotel are other factors that create tourism demand in Karnataka. Evidently the effective management of Covid-19 by the central and state government through schemes like SAATHI (System of Assessment, Awareness and Training for Hospitality Industry) had also gained the confidence of tourists from hinterland and neighbouring states for travel to Karnataka.

What steps is India Tourism taking to promote Karnataka?

Under the Dekho Apna Desh campaign of the Ministry of Tourism, India Tourism Bangalore is extensively promoting Domestic tourism through various events aimed at promoting off beat tourism, wellness tourism, eco-tourism, solo adventure tourism among others. The intent is to scale up to the growing momentum on the new tourism trends of closer to home lesser crowded destinations without compromising on the safety guidelines.

With signs of vaccine rollout, India Tourism Bangalore has initiated a slew of eco-tourism promotional activities to woo domestic tourists under the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ Campaign. In January, a familiarization program on eco-tourism was organized for stakeholders at Bannerghatta National Park.

The objective of the program was to create awareness among stakeholders so that they will make efforts to promote nature-based tourism to the potential market segment and will help the country achieve its goal for effective sustainability planning, maximum social and economic benefits for local communities, minimize negative impacts on cultural heritage and environment. ITO Bangalore will also be organising a capacity building program for Home stay/ B&B hosts in Sakleshpur on January 12 to create awareness about NIDHI, SAATHI and IITFC schemes of Ministry of Tourism which will enable them to upgrade the skills required to cater to the demands of the market in the new normal. For promoting the plantations tourism experience of Sakleshpur, a social media influencers familiarisation program has been organised on 13th January 2021 to give hands on experience about Farm/Agri/ Plantation tourism.  A Plog and Trek program has been organised on January 26 at Hutridurga Kunigal Taluk for adventure lovers wherein sensitization program and Swachh Bharat cleanliness drive will also be done on the trekking routes. A series of webinars on diverse tourism products are being organised.

 In your opinion, which destinations in Karnataka do well, and why?

Of late, we have seen travellers doing a shift from essential to leisure travel. While professions are working from home, they are looking for beautiful locales for workations or staycations. Destinations like Coorg, Chikmagalur, Sakleshpur, Bandipur, Kabini, Jog Falls, Nandi Hills, Srirangapatna, Gokarna, Mysore, and Hampi are doing well according to Hospitality Industry reports.

As a travel trade professional, what were your learnings in 2020, the year of lockdowns and curfews?

During this pandemic, tourism industry has realized the importance of constantly engaging with the consumers via digital channels. Stakeholders are adopting a two-way communication strategy to convey vital information to their consumers. This communication strategy is a consumer-centric approach where companies attempt to engage, create dialogues, and convey information through various digital platforms. The shift in consumer behaviour, stringent safety measures, digital boost, innovative communication strategies, government intervention to create ‘travel bubbles’, and measures to contain the virus are the learnings for the industry in 2020.

What’s the roadmap for India Tourism in 2021 to promote Karnataka?

India Tourism Bangalore will focus on domestic tourism through a number of innovative steps like promotion of products, festivals, cuisines etc. of Incredible India to drive the travel and tourism demand in the post pandemic era.We will also be organizing activities to promote the concept of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat. Digital will be fully utilized to promote and spread awareness about the tourist destinations and activities by means of social media handles.

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