Fresh from a trip along Karnatakas famed coastline (Mangalore and Udupi to be precise). Indias (and specifically Karnatakas) coastline continues to thrill me - Karwar which I covered many years back was impressive. Ullal, Kapu and Malpe beaches were outstanding - even more than Goa especially if you want a beach for yourself!
But coming back to the trip, we had a trip to St. Marys Isles. Not that we had any clue what was in store for us there since our only knowledge of the same was what we read out of Outlook Traveller's 52 weekend breaks out of Bangalore. The boat trip of about half an hour costs 70 rupees per person for the return trip to the isles. The boat itself is as basic as it can get and it is stuffed to the gills with passengers. When you disembark - which is an effort in itself, since there is no pier or anything to make it easy you realize that there are no facilities on the isle and the isle is quite dirty to say the least. All in all, the 70 bucks is a ripoff for the substandard service provided. Not sure if Rajarajeshwari tours - who operates this has any competition. At this point, it appears there is none, so he keeps milking the golden goose with some crappy service.
Mauritius and other coastal tourism spots make money milking isles such as these - and how. They charge a bomb, but they provide facilities, activities, clean places - but this one, does not even have drinking water or signboards or anything. In fact I dont even know if what we went to was St. Marys Isles. Operators like these do irreparable damage to Indian tourism - Karnataka has some nice tourist signboards along the tourist circuit, but more is needed. Karnataka has the potential of many Goas, but this is not the way to go about unlocking it.
Effectively, Rajarajeshwari tours is doing what Indian industry did prior to 91. He is a monopoly and he offers substandard services at high prices. What should be done? Exactly what we did to Indian industry in 91. Offer the same licence (if there is one) to three/four operators - and then sit back to see the difference. At this point it can be argued that the small isle does not have the space for competition, but wasnt that the same argument put forward by industries too!