A Critical look at Karnataka’s New Tourism Policy I 18 March I Fri I 6.30pm

Public Discussion

Profiteering and Exclusion through Privatization :

A Critical look at Karnataka’s New Tourism Policy

Mar 18, Fri, 6.30PM

Venue : Alternative Law Forum , #122/4, Infantry Road, Bangalore – 560001

(Next to Balaji Art Gallery, Ph 080-22868757, 080-22865757)

Karnataka’s tourism Policy and the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group have been in the news recently as several artistes have come out in opposition to the takeover of the Venkatappa Art Gallery by a private foundation. However, it is not just the VAG that is set to be taken over, but a whole host of public spaces, revered by crores of people. Karnataka’s new tourism policy is set to privatise public spaces, put profit over people and exclude the common person in the way it seeks to operate. This public meeting will take a critical look at the new tourism policy and the functioning of the Tourism Vision Group. The meeting will involve sharing of experiences by researchers from EQUATIONS who have been working on Tourism Policy related issues. Some of the artistes who have been at the forefront of the campaign to resist the takeover of the Venkatappa Art Gallery will also share their experiences.

More on the Tourism Policy and the Tourism Vision Group

The Minister for Tourism for the State of Karnataka, RV Deshpande announced the new Karnataka Tourism Policy (2015-2020) in July 2015. This much hyped tourism policy looks towards a steady growth by attracting private investors to develop tourism destinations in the state, thus replicating a similar trend witnessed across states like Gujarat and neighbouring state of Maharashtra. The Policy has given impetus to develop tourism infrastructure through the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Model. It (the policy) has taken adequate care of the private players and investors by introducing a slew of tax exemptions for investments in Focus Tourism Destinations (a list of 40 destinations across the State), and for investments in Mega Tourism Projects (projects valued above Rs.100 crores). But throughout the policy, there is barely any community perspective and mention of the local communities or their participation, even though the Vision Statement ends with the words ‘improving livelihood opportunities at the local level’. The Policy also focuses on urban areas of Bengaluru and Mysuru centres by developing ‘Urban Tourism’ and ‘Weekend Tourism’.

The Karnataka Tourism Vision Group (KTVG) was set up by the Government of Karnataka in October 2013, comprising of eminent personalities from various fields, to prepare a report on the tourism vision for the State. It is on the basis of the KTVG recommendations that this Tourism Policy has been formulated. One of the recommendations was to sign MoU’s with corporates to ‘adopt a tourist destination’. Currently, the State has entered into 6 MoU’s with Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Lalbagh), Jindal Foundation (Bengaluru Museum), Sandur Manganese and Iron Ores Private Limited (Ranganathittu), Tasveer Foundation (Venkatappa Art Gallery), West Coast Papers Mills Limited (Kavala Caves) and Coffee Day Enterprises (Belur and Halebidu) respectively. The resistance generated with specific regards to the Venkatappa Art Gallery has highlighted key issues that such a model might bring out, most importantly the access to the space for various stakeholders. Even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has come heavily down on the PPP Model adopted for tourism development, in its report on the performance of the Tourism Department between 2010-15.

Thus we invite you for a talk on these issues at the Alternative Law Forum, 122/4, Next to Balaji Art Gallery, Bangalore – 560 001 on 18/03/2016(Friday) at 6.30 p.m (Nearest Bus Stop  : Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand/ Indian Express Stop )