Wednesday, October 26, 2005

KSTDC, tourism departments and potential

Travelling is a great generator of ideas. Sitting by the window of a moving vehicle watching the landscape go by is a great stimulant for the ideas machine. This trip to Sravanabelagola, Belur and Halebid set me thinking about the goldmine KSTDC (Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation) and the other STDC's are sitting on.

Our Volvo bus for instance had a driver and a cleaner. Either the driver or (preferably) his assistant with a bit of training could have doubled up as a guide. The tour could have been handled better if there were two drivers who were also trained guides. Heres how it operates now. Driver drives to a destination. An accomplice guide shows up, collects 10 rupees from every person, the driver takes a share in it. The way these guides operate, nobody would ever tip them. World over guides earn more by tips than by the actual guiding work. None of the
guides I met are multilingual. Their English as well as Kannada are just passable and I am not talking about other languages at all.

In our bus, they played a VCD of a flop Hindi movie. I would have so welcomed an introduction to the sites I was going to visit, if at all. (I hate "Video coaches" or "in flight entertainment", just let us be)

The office of KSTDC is one sad place. Something like a railway booking counter out of the Raj. No souvenirs, no t shirts, no smiling faces - nothing. And they call Karnataka the theatre of
inspiration. Its more theater of the insipid.

The bus itself can double up as a souvenir shop with some souvenirs for display inside that visitors can pick up either at the origin or destination.

How about a complimentary (or paid) photograph?
How about some good quality replicas?
Handing over these monuments to private agencies ( I would say hotels like the Taj or Oberoi, who have a vested interest in tourism and tourist arrivals) for a fee and making them free to market souvenirs is perhaps a better idea than to get the government run the upkeep of these places.

But consider once again, the goldmine that these tourist corporations are sitting on. Visit any tourist place of a pennys worth abroad and it is worth noting how they take care of their heritage and how they market it. Apparently Ajanta, Ellora caves are pretty well maintained these days. Its just another of those things, that we have and squander without a thought as to the value and potential that can be unlocked.

1 comment:

Ankan said...

You are so very correct! Infact I took the same trip about year and half later than you did and I did not find any changes from what you described here!!!