The turnout of visitors to the Idukki dam which has been opened for public in connection with the festival season of Christmas-New Year is comparatively less this time. The public entry was allowed on December 24 and will continue till January 8.

There was less rush being felt at the ticket counter near the dam site compared to that of the Onam season and most of the visitors are from outside the district. The Kerala State Electricity Board had expected a good turnout this time in consideration of the Onam season and two speed boats were made available to the visitors who prefer a cruise in the still waters. It provides a close greenic view of the Idukki Wild life Sanctuary and if lucky, one can sight the wild animals too.

The dam is opened for public entry only on festival seasons and during special occasions.

A senior official of the KSEB said that it was expected that there would be heavy rush during this season and two speed boats were made available in the dam reservoir. However, though the initial response was enthusiastic, it slowly dampened in the following days, he said. Till on Wednesday about 10, 250 visitors came to the dam and the preference for boat journey is also not up to the expected level. ``Now only one boat is put for conducting the tourism service,'' he said and added that more people are expected in the coming days with as the situation across the border connected to the Mullaperiyar issue was returning to normalcy.

Being the holidays, families with children prefer to visit the dam and the low turnout of tourists this time is said to be due to the traffic interruption across the border, which also resulted a considerable drop in the tourist inflow in Thekkady especially from Tamil Nadu.

When the dam is opened for public, it is also a connected tour package with Thekkady and Munnar, in addition to those families reaching Idukki dam alone and returning on the same day. The KSEB official said that visitors included families from Tamil Nadu formed a considerable group arriving to visit the dam. ``The families from outside the district also abstained from visiting the dam and the reasons for the sudden fall in the tourists are being analysed,'' he said.

During the last Onam season, there was heavy rush felt in front of the ticket counters and traffic also came to a halt in the road from Cheruthoni to the dam site with vehicles finding it difficult to park on the road side. The low temperature prevailing in the area might have also resulted in the low tourist turn out, said the official adding that the majority of the visitors were from the neighbouring districts of Kottayam and Ernakulam.