Karnataka recreating its own 'Goa beach'Panaji, Nearly 300 km from Goa's southernmost beach of Agonda, Karnataka is in the process of recreating a 'Goa beach' of its own.
The difference, according to officials, is that Karnataka's sun-sand adaptation would be a safer place, well-planned, organised and remarkably sanitised as compared to the beaches of Goa, which are slipping into decadence owing to years of neglect.
The Karanataka government is expecting the Panambur Beach Tourism Development Project to change the face of beach tourism in the state, which is otherwise known for its rich heritage and sandalwood - and, in recent times, rampant mining.
'Safety and security of tourists are prime on our agenda. We have well trained lifeguards - trained by Surf Life Australia. Through strict vigilance we have been able to clear the beach of all anti-social elements,' Yathish Baikampady, the project's chief executive officer, told IANS.
'Today we have graduated into total beach management. We are perhaps the only organisation in India that has experience in total beach management, right from safety, security, environment protection, beach upkeep and maintenance, beach vendor management, water sports and everything connected to the beach,' Baikampady claimed.
Sanitation has top billing on the agenda, he stressed.
According to him, 'even the ice gola (crushed ice on a stick dipped in flavoured syrup) served here is made from zero-bacteria cube ice and it has been a trade mark of the beach'.
Tourists at the Panambur beach are not even allowed to use the chewing paan, a tradition in parts of Karnataka.
What is it that made Panambur follow the Goa model?
Baikampady said: 'Goa has its own unique brand image. If the beaches in Karnataka develop a certain level of tourism friendliness and tourism related facilities, both the regions may prosper.'
The relatively cosmopolitan crowd from Mangalore, around 300 km from here, continues to be one of the main tourism sources for the Panambur beach.
Beach weddings, family and corporate events are next on the agenda for the beach resort.
'We are committed to maintaining the cosmopolitan culture Mangalore has to offer. Today a boy and a girl can come to the beach and enjoy the sunset in each other's company undisturbed. Voyeurism is snuffed in the bud. Anyone taking pictures discreetly of others without consent is reprimanded and pictures removed from their camera,' he said.
For the young high spending professionals and students from Bangalore and other regions of Karnataka who usually head to the Goa beaches, Panambur could offer a new option closer home.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)