While the BJP government in Karnataka is promoting tourism in a grand way and wants to attract more foreign visitors, the tourism departments, on the contrary, is lying vacant and grappling with a severe shortage of staff.
Around 80% of the Karnataka tourism department is vacant and this vacancy has been there for years. Interestingly, the department is content with contract workers so full-time employees aren’t hired. Of 312 sanctioned posts at all levels, 243 posts are vacant, severely hampering day-to-day work. The tourism department is managed by officers of other departments in over 10 districts in Karnataka. Receptionists are also holding the fort up in some districts.
Let’s take Uttara Kannada district as an example to understand better. This district has around 30 tourist destinations and 100 kms of beaches and coastline. However, to manage this whole scenario, the tourism department has just one in-charge deputy director who is actually from the social welfare department, and a receptionist. Belagavi also has a similar story. In many districts, the department doesn’t even have basic staff members like peons.
“This is the most neglected of all the government department. We’re not even allowed to outsource work,” says a deputy director from Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
As reported by Times of India, no recruitment has happened for the past 10 years. A few assistant directors were last appointed in the year 2010.
Ongoing developmental work and proposals for new projects are all affected due to staff shortage. “When we don’t have staff to carry out regular work, how can we focus on development works and attracting tourists?” asks an assistant director.
Newly appointed tourism minister of the state CT Ravi has been asked by senior officials to take up the issue and solve the problem.
“Staff shortage is a matter of concern and I’ll take up the matter with chief minister BS Yediyurappa. We’ll start recruiting staff,” he said after his first meeting with officials.
Karnataka has a great potential for tourism as it has around 319 tourist spots and 40 tourism circuits. Hampi, which is a World Heritage Site, is also one of 17 places identified by the Centre as part of its effort to make India a tourism hub.