Jungle Lodges Chain to Expand in Karnataka

Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) of the state tourism department is expanding its operations in Karnataka to promote eco-tourism under public-private partnership, a top official said Monday.

'Besides opening up five more resorts in select tourist hot spots, we are inviting entrepreneurs from the health sector to set up health and wellness centres in strategic locations across the state to promote tourism in a holistic way,' Jungle Lodges managing director N.D. Tiwari told reporters here.

The profit-making state-run agency is investing Rs.5-7 crore in each of the five resort projects over the next 12 months to create and expand capacity for stay and leisure activities.

'Our game plan is to see more natural vistas are opened up to travellers or tourists in the state and facilitate that they experience the rich flora and fauna, heritage, weekend getaways, wildlife and allied leisure in the state,' Tiwari said.

The three-decade-old JLR operates 13 eco and wildlife resorts at exotic locations in the state, with about 80 percent occupancy rate round the year.

The new eco resorts are coming up at Vilaspur in Bidar district, Talakalale at Jog in Shimoga district, Hampi in Bellary district, Pilikula Nisarga Dhama in Mangalore district, at Khanapur in Belgaum district and Yagachi in Hassan district.

'Resorts at Vilaspur, Talakalale and Hampi will be completed by 2011, while those proposed at Khanapur and Yagachi are awaiting approval from the central government and the central zoo authority,' Tiwari said.

In fiscal 2009-10, the resorts had about 80,000 guests, including 40 percent repeat customers.

Unlike in the past, the profile of guests has undergone a sea change, with domestic tourists accounting for 75 percent of the total guests.

'About 70 percent of the domestic tourists are from this tech hub comprising techies, executives, nature lovers and their families,' Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) Managing Director Vinay Luthra said.

As the country's largest eco and wildlife resort chain, JLR has been providing authentic nature experiences to travellers in idyllic settings.

Tatler's Travel Guide has rated JLR's Kabini River Lodge as one of the top wildlife resorts in the world.

The company is also developing a night safari in Bannerghata national park on the outskirts of Bangalore at an estimated cost of Rs.80 crore.

Though JLR survived the impact of slowdown last fiscal with a flat revenue generation of Rs.27 crore as against Rs.26 crore in previous fiscal (2008-09), it is projecting Rs.32 crore turnover this fiscal (2010-11), with about 90,000 guests.

The company posted Rs.4.24 crore net profit in fiscal 2009-10 as against Rs.4.02 crore in fiscal 2008-09.