Karnataka Governor and former Gujarat Assembly Speaker – Vajubhai Vala who was the guest of honour at a tourism awards event held in Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening, slammed the lack of facilities in several tourist destinations of the state like Somnath and Sasan Gir and exhorted tourism associations and apex bodies to work closely with the government to help modernise the same.
While comparing and praising the efforts of Karnataka’s tourism department to that of Gujarat, Vala said, “Many a times when arrangement for tourists are in the hands of the government and the (tourism) corporation, they are not 100 per cent result oriented. Hence the state government should hand over such work to private firms. I will tell you that people here flock to Sasan Gir during Diwali season, in a way in which many are unable to return. But the tourist who goes there – finds that there is no drinking water facilities, no toilet facilities, no resting places to sit and no snacks or food of one’s choice available there. There are two ways tourist face difficulty- one owing to it being a sanctuary, there is no permission for any construction to come up. I tell forest department officials that at least allow people from the tourist sector to put up structure (tents) at least for a week and provide facilities to tourists, even if construction is not allowed. I am telling you this on the basis of one of my visits there during Diwali. If people don’t get drinking water, food, urinals, cool places to rest- then they won’t return to Sasan Gir again. In this sector if a tourist says that he was harassed due to lack of facilities- then the tourist numbers will gradually reduce.”
Vala also mentioned how tourists have to wait in 3 hour long queues for ‘Darshan’ at the famous Somnath temple during the festive occasion of ‘Shravan’. He added, “I know that the Sun temple (Modhera) has turned into ruins, but once on a visit, there was a good guide with me who explained the fascinating history behind each statue there. Only a guide can convey the incredible history and emotion behind the creation of a heritage monument and more guides should be encouraged.”
The veteran BJP leader had recently courted controversy several times after he walked away from the stage while the national anthem was playing at an official event in Karnataka last year and also when he advised female students to get rid of fashion while going to colleges at Mysore at an event this January.
Chairman of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd.(TCGL)- Kamlesh Patel who spoke at the event said that the tourist footfall to the state had touched revenues of Rs 57 crores profit last year while the tourist numbers to the state had swelled to more than 4 crores since 2006 when they were just 60 lakh.
The event ‘Tourism Awards Gujarat 2016’ which was organised by a private entity and supported by Gujarat Tourism also saw the presence of dignitaries like cabinet minister (tourism) Ganpatsinh Vasava, Vipul Mittra (IAS)- Principal Secretary of Ports & Transport Department , former bureaucrat Varun Maira, Textile Revivalist and designer Umang Hutheesing among others.