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Tourist arrivals likely to touch record figure

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BIG TURNOUT: Tourists throng the Amba Vilas at the Mysore Palace.
BIG TURNOUT: Tourists throng the Amba Vilas at the Mysore Palace.

Shankar Bennur

There is expected to be a big rush over the weekend in Mysore

Occupancy rate in city hotels has picked up

Deployment of police personnel is twice that

of last year

MYSORE: Despite the shadow of terror, there has been no decline in the number of tourists coming to Mysore to witness the Dasara festivities. And, the tourists’ turnout, according to sources, is likely to touch a record figure this weekend, thanks to widespread enquiries the hospitality industry here has been getting in the last couple of days.

The sources said, tourists’ flow has picked up with the festivities gaining momentum. With the city police putting in place an elaborate security cover for the festivities, tourist arrivals have increased.

A senior Government officer told The Hindu that the occupancy rate in city hotels has picked up and only a few rooms are available for booking. “This information, sourced from the hospitality industry, indicates that tourists’ number has not declined despite the threat perception,” he adds.

The Dasara inauguration on Chamundi Hills attracted a record crowd for the first time in recent years. Many tourists from neighbouring States and the north were noticed at the temple shrine on the first day of the Navaratri festivities.

“Not many visitors could be seen on day two of Dasara on Wednesday because of heavy rain, otherwise tourists are very much in Mysore and going around the city for sightseeing,” said sources.

Deputy Commissioner and Dasara Special Officer P. Manivannan said that tourists, on the first two days of Dasara this year, were more in number than the last year. “Thanks to the elaborate security measures, the tourists’ number is expected to swell. Also, the new attractions this year are drawing in people in good numbers,” he added.

People came in hordes to listen to the music of noted singer K.J. Yesudas at the palace on Friday. “This indicates tourist arrivals in large numbers,” said official sources. Even though the city police received advisories from the Union Government to put in place a tight security cover in view of the recent bomb blasts in many places in the country, security had been scaled up for Dasara and the deployment of policemen is twice that of last year’s security cover. “We are not disclosing what all security measures have been taken for certain reasons. Whatever necessary in view of the general alert has been done for the safety of visitors,” Mr. Manivannan said.

Foreign tourists

Compared to last year, foreign tourists are fewer in number this time. “As they come here mainly to watch the Jamboo Savari, their number will rise before the grand finale,” the sources added. Perhaps the delay in launching the official website of Dasara could be one of the reasons for the dip in foreign tourists. “How can you expect tourists from abroad here without aggressive publicity? The website should have launched a couple of months before the start,” a tour operator said.

100 p.c. occupancy

Mysore City Hotel Owners’ Association President Rajendra said that there is a surge of tourists in the last two days. “The occupancy rate has touched 70 to 80 per cent and it will hit 100 per cent before the last two days of Dasara.

The hotels are getting enquiries from domestic travellers and group bookings have gone up,” he said.

Mr. Rajendra, who recently made a representation to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa requesting him to extend palace illumination till October 12 because of tourists’ presence even after Dasara, is hopeful of a good tourist season.

A traffic police officer said that vehicular traffic had risen considerably since Wednesday.

“Traffic has gone up by two folds. This shows up the arrival of tourists in big numbers. Providing parking to tourist vehicles has become a big challenge for us,” the officer said.

In an effort to boost tourist inflow, the Government had exempted entry tax on vehicles coming to Mysore between September 30 and October 12. “This gesture will certainly make a difference to arrivals, especially those from Kerala and Tamil Nadu this season,” said sources in the tourism industry.

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