Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No room for tourists in Bangalore

No room for tourists in Bangalore
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Ever wondered why the IT City, despite offering umpteen business opportunities, has never been tagged as a hot tourist destination?

Bangalore, a must-visit destination for 51 per cent of the foreign tourists, is actually short of around 15,000 hotel rooms. While occupancy rates at the hotels are full during weekdays, it drastically dips to under 65 per cent on weekends.

“Many people in the world might not have heard about Karnataka but most have heard of Bangalore. The city which attracts two multinational companies (MNCs) to set up shop every month, at present has only 4,000 rooms in the two to five-star hotels category. Even tourists on business visits wind up their trip once their work is done due to the shortage of rooms,” principal secretary for tourism I M Vittala Murthy, told Deccan Herald while making a presentation on “Tourism and Karnataka” here on Monday.

To cash in on these business tourists and convert them into leisure tourists the tourism department will ask the hotel industry to increase the number of rooms in the City and organise weekend packages.

The department will reintroduce Karnataka Unforgettable Weekends (UFW) in October with focus on water parks. The UFW is aimed at attracting techies, he said. “Around 6,000 rooms are in the pipeline. But this won’t be enough because once the international airport comes up, more people will visit Bangalore. We want these tourists to extend their business stay in the city to leisure stay for at least two or three days,” he added.
Sources said The Leela Palace has a 90 per cent occupancy during weekdays and about 60 per cent during weekends.

The Park Hotel has 100 per cent occupancy from Monday to Wednesday and it tapered of to 65 per cent on Saturday. St Marks Hotel had 102 per cent on weekdays and 87 per cent on weekends. The marketing heads of the hotels have varied opinions. Some said a lot needs to be done by the department, while others welcomed the idea of weekends packages which will include a trip to heritage and tourist spots near the city.

“We have packages but it does not help — Bangalore has to be made a happening place and not enough is being done,” said head of sales and marketing of Leela Palace, Sunil Prabhakar. “Bangalore is not on the itinerary of any travel agent and the tourism officials should take take this challenge up on a war footing.”

Director-head of sales and marketing of Park Hotels, Ranjiv Ramamuti said it needs to be marketed as “more than a corporate city”.


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