Udupi: Following the drowning of five students in two separate incidents on St Mary’s Island in Udupi in April, authorities are considering introducing guided tours from next season. Deputy Commissioner M Kurma Rao said modalities were being worked out to introduce guided tours. You have to tell people the importance of the island, as well as the fragility of certain points.
Senior officials have already met and discussed various measures to be implemented on the island. Several officers also visited the scene to check the heightened security measures at St Mary’s Island, off Malpe Beach.
Malpe Beach tenant Sudesh Shetty, who looks after St Mary’s Island and represents Mantra Tourism Development Company, told TOI: “We only have about 15 days left this season. Starting next season, we plan to introduce guided tours. Tourists will be allowed to enter the water, only in the swimming area,” he said.
In addition, he explained that several measures have been taken to strengthen security. “Apart from the swimming area, the entire area has been fenced off. Two watchtowers have been installed and lifeguards and beach security personnel have been reduced from six to 14. Large signs indicating danger points have been put in place. Climbing on the rocks for selfies has been completely restricted. A series of meetings have been held with residents and, based on feedback from district officials and residents, various safety measures have been taken” , Shetty said.
During this time, every tourist who enters the island must listen to the announcement made on the do’s and don’ts. Mention is also made of recent drowning deaths, warning tourists not to risk their lives by entering prohibited areas. All groups of visiting students, and accompanied by teachers, will be required to sign a pledge not to enter prohibited areas at the entry point itself. There are also plans to have selfie points, an interpretation center and to have more greenery on the island, he said.