05 June, 2012 Kochi
The tourism industry has breathed a collective sigh of relief after Mr. D Karthikeyan has taken over charge of his new assignment as the new General Manager of SPORTS.
The dishonest actions and greed for money amongst some of the corrupt officials of SPORTS, have literally brought defame and shame to the independent tour operators and promoters of Lakshadweep as a prime tourist destination in the archipelago, not to mention the untold miseries and hardships to hapless tourists arriving here from different locations of the country and abroad.
Allegations of bribery or corruption were regular against the management of SPORTS (especially about the outgoing General Manager, a central Government employee who, in fact, belongs to Lakshadweep Island). During his tenure of service, no travel agent was spared from misery. There was no guaranty of booking of ship packages or resorts managed by SPORTS. Ship packages and resort bookings were cancelled without due notice, with utter disrespect and with no cause assigned to it whatsoever.
Apart from the routine ship cancellations, there were many other manipulations associated exclusively under the GM’s influence and direct control. In order to get the monetary benefits, dishonest personnel at SPORTS often channel groups or special occasion bookings through their privately owned travel agencies to share the travel agent commission (TAC) and other incentives amongst them. And in order to accommodate such guests at the ships or resorts, SPORTS Office at Kochi is involved in fabricating fraudulent documents and conspiracy to convert such bookings (already confirmed by them to independent travel agents. A practice commonly followed by them is to cancel the booking to the travel agent and convert it to their own.
Such cancellations are effected and announced by SPORTS on flimsy grounds and that too at the last moment (cases of such cancellations even as the guests reported at SPORTS office for boarding the ship). Majority of the guests come from across the country with children, elderly parents and other family members. The embarrassment caused to guests could very well be imagined, besides inconvenience to the travel agents who arranged these bookings through SPORTS.
In such situations, the image and goodwill of the travel agents who deal with SPORTS is tarnished. Their honest service and prestige are thus questioned. An impartial enquiry will reveal the truth behind this. If the new GM of SPORTS could bring such issues to the limelight, the officials who steal public money could be check mated, the service providers could extend their professional assistance to the tourists without there being a lacuna for last minute embezzlement.
There is a great potential for the growth of Lakshadweep Tourism. However, visiting Lakshadweep by flight is in fact in haphazard now, besides non-availability of resorts. The Kadmat Beach Resort was the only available shelter for foreigners. To get a reservation at Kadmat Resort is next to impossible due to various reasons. Besides this, the absence of scheduled ferry transfers between Agatti and Kadmat islands, choosing such mode of travel can be a nightmare for tourists.
The above are some of the crude problems that hinder the highly potential Lakshadweep Tourism. Many of these were the results of the unbridled actions of corrupt officials. Therefore, promoters of Lakshadweep as a prime tourist destination earnestly hope that the dynamic new General Manager would a) kindly look into the above mentioned issues which have hitherto blocked the progression of Lakshadweep Tourism, and b) find remedial measures thereof, and steer the SPORTS tourism project out of the present deep and dark ocean waters – to the bright High Sea.
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