Election campaigns are known to bring income to certain commercial establishments though they are not directly involved in the polls. One of these is the food and hospitality sector. The by-election in Yercaud (ST) constituency has brought smiles on to the faces of the owners of a variety of small or budget eateries, which see a huge rush of cadres of political parties who are in the middle of a campaign. Businesses that have reaped the best returns are small hotels, cottages and bakeries near the boat house, bus stand and nearby places in this tourism centre.

R. Siva, owner of a hotel near Anna Park, said that the cadres flow in from breakfast time to dinner in small hotels such as his. “We price our items nominally. The items are sought after by them and the price suits their budget. Bakeries and tea stalls too have good business as the cadres look for a quick bite and warm beverages to beat the cold”.

Business is even better when more cadres turn up to attend meetings of top leaders, they pointed out. Owners of eateries claimed that, in fact, they were seeing good business during off season; tourist inflow is less during October-January. This time, it is being compensated by the election crowd.

A. Vinod who owns four cottages at Mundangambadi village (two km from Yercaud town) said that his cottages were booked for one month. “Though we rent our cottages for Rs.2,500 day, we are forced to rent the same for Rs.1,000 a day now. But, this is an unexpected good business during the off season”, he said.

At the same time, owners of cottages and small lodges said there were disadvantages too. “While a cottage can be occupied by only four persons, as many as 20 persons are staying in each of them now. Many of them consume alcohol and have made us spend a lot on cleaning and maintaining our establishments”, he added.

Fuel stations are also having good business over the last 10 days. Sale of fuel has increased by 40 to 50 per cent as more bikes and cars are brought by the party cadres and leaders who are stationed here for the campaign, the owner of a fuel station said.

The large hotels, however, do not seem to benefit from the campaign. The more financially sound leaders of parties prefer to stay in Salem and travel to Yercaud for the campaign.

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