Tourist footfall to the Nilgiris drops as COVID-19 cases rise

The Government Botanical Garden in Udhagamandalam wears a deserted look on Thursday.

The Government Botanical Garden in Udhagamandalam wears a deserted look on Thursday.

With the number of COVID-19 cases on the increase across the State and in Kerala, the number of tourists to the Nilgiris has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year, said officials from the Tourism Department as well as hotel and restaurant owners.

The tourism and hospitality sector in the Nilgiris witnessed an upturn in fortunes at the end of last year, with over 2.5 lakh visitors believed to have visited the district in the last two months of 2021. However, since the turn of the year, the number of visitors had declined steeply, primarily due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the State, with visitors choosing to stay away fearing infection, the officials said.

Visitors to all tourist spots across the district have declined sharply, including The Government Botanical Garden, the most popular tourist spot in the district. According to officials, an average of 9,000 people were visiting the garden during the final few months of 2021. However, the number since then has fallen sharply to around 1,500 during the week, with the number increasing slightly to around 2,500 visitors during the weekend.

Small business as well as hotel and restaurant owners had hoped that the Pongal holidays would witness an influx of tourists to the district. “This was not the case, as people chose to stay away due to the increasing number of cases reported in Tamil Nadu as well as in Kerala, where a high proportion of tourists to the Nilgiris travel from,” said N. Chandrashekar, honorary secretary of the Nilgiri Hotel and Restaurant Association.

The district administration has also announced a few restrictions at tourist spots and for entry into the district to minimise the chance of an increase in transmission of COVID-19 to local residents. Since this month, only people showing proof of vaccination are allowed to enter the district as well as tourist spots, while visiting hours to the parks and gardens have also been limited to between 10 a.m and 3 p.m.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 9:49:16 am |