Even as the state BJP government hopes to boost to tourism in a big way and attract more foreign visitors, the department is grappling with a severe staff shortage.
It has a skeletal staff with around 80% of sanctioned posts lying vacant for years and the government content with running the show with contract employees. Of 312 sanctioned posts at all levels, 243 posts are vacant, severely hampering day-to-day work. In over 10 districts, the department is managed by officers of other departments and in some districts, receptionists are holding the fort.Balachandra Jarkiholi elected KMF chairman unanimously
For example, in Uttara Kannada district, which has around 30 tourist destinations and 100km of serene beaches, the department has just an in-charge deputy director, who is actually from the social welfare department, and a receptionist. It’s the same case in Belagavi. In many districts, the department doesn’t have peons. “This is the most neglected of all the government departments. We’re not even allowed to outsource work,” says a deputy director from Hyderabad-Karnataka region. According to a source, no recruitment has happened for the past 10 years. The last time a few assistant directors were appointed was in 2010. Due to staff shortage, keeping an eye on ongoing developments work and preparing new proposals have taken a severe beating. “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.
Senior officials have requested tourism minister CT Ravi, who took charge last week, to address the issue.
“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. With 319 tourist spots and 40 tourism circuits, the state has great potential for tourism development. World Heritage Site Hampi is also one of 17 places identified by the Centre as part of its effort to make India a tourism hub.