Future looks bleak for resort owners, cab operators in the Nilgiris

‘Many drivers are thinking of selling their cars just to make ends meet’

Though Udhagamandalam town has returned to some semblance of normalcy since lockdown measures were eased, those dependant on the tourism industry said that the medium to long-term future for many remains bleak due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small-time entrepreneurs, including those in the hospitality business in the town, said that business has improved over the last few days due to more people venturing out of their houses, but they added that unless the district is once again opened up to tourism, many businesses will have to shut down in the coming months.

“The Nilgiris depends on tourism to provide livelihoods for lakhs of people. We have already lost two summer months, which are the most profitable months of each year.

“Unless the situation improves, and tourists start visiting again, many cottages will have to close down permanently,” said Ram Gopalan, a resort owner from the Nilgiris.

Taxi drivers, too, said that the cancellation of the summer flower festival this year due to COVID-19, and the district being closed to tourists has meant that most have not made any money from their taxis for the last month.

“Many drivers are now thinking of selling their cars just to make ends meet and find alternative employment. It really is a very challenging time for many taxi owners,” said R. Kumar, a taxi driver from Khandal in Udhagamandalam.

V.A. Mohammed Jaffer, district president of the Nilgiris District Small Eateries Owners’ Association, said that there were more than 800 small restaurants, bakeries and eateries in the district.

“Even if these businesses are allowed to open, many may not be able to function due to certain conditions the government may impose on each establishment in the wake of the pandemic, such as a mandatory amount of floor space available for each shop to be allowed to operate. We could lose hundreds of shops due to such restrictions,” said Mr. Jaffer, who added that the livelihood of thousands of people was linked to small eateries in the Nilgiris.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:19:27 AM |

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