Summer festival fails to draw crowds

Delays in organising the event, crackdown of illegal buildings in Kodaikanal may be possible reasons

June 02, 2019 07:49 am | Updated 07:49 am IST - KODAIKANAL

Lack of interest:  A footfall of only 30,200 was registered for the first three days at the annual flower show at Bryant Park in Kodaikanal.

Lack of interest: A footfall of only 30,200 was registered for the first three days at the annual flower show at Bryant Park in Kodaikanal.

The 10-day annual summer festival ( Kodai Vizha ), which was inaugurated on May 30, has not seen many visitors till Saturday.

According to the officials at Bryant Park, every year 1 to 1.5 lakh people would visit the flower show, which would normally be held for the first three days and other events — boat race and dog shows — would go on for a week attracting tourists from all over.

Though, a number of new and innovative flower arrangements were readied, a meagre 30,200 tourists had visited in the last three days and, only on the first day, the festival registered a footfall of little over 11,000, officials said.

Pushed back

When The Hindu spoke to a few hoteliers and taxi operators in the hill station, they said that usually the festival was held in mid-May, when the tourist season was at its peak. According to Robert, a tourist taxi officer employee, holding the fête at the tail end of the vacation had become an issue.

Raja Chandrasekaran, an executive working for a private resort, said after the Kodaikanal Municipal authorities conducted a drive and sealed a number of commercial buildings including hotels for alleged violation, the rooms had garnered much demand. Since the price for an overnight stay in a lesser known cottage cost nearly ₹10,000, many tourists drove down the same day.

An official at the municipal office said that they had sealed buildings for violation as per the directive of Madras High Court Bench.

When the tourist season end, action would be intensified, the official added.

A new master plan, which is in the offing, should have an answer and be able to redress grievances, the official added. Kodaikanal Merchants’ Association president Raja Mohammed said by adhering to the court directive, the officials sealed over 400 commercial buildings.

Shortage of rooms

This led to a severe shortage of rooms. A number of tourists had to cancel the trip as the rooms could not be occupied. Only 15% of the usual crowd could be seen. While there were no let up in the arrivals for high-end hotels and resorts, the middle class population had to suffer, he explained.

George, a resident at Seven Roads, said the court order was welcome as a number of unauthorised buildings had come up spoiling the environment and aesthetics.

However, he suggested the municipal authorities to come out with a regulated plan, which would benefit both tourists and hoteliers.

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