Locals resist influx of tourists as number of infections increases

Mullayanagiri, Kemmangundi and Mudigere have been flooded with tourists.

Mullayanagiri, Kemmangundi and Mudigere have been flooded with tourists.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

They are angry with visitors who do not follow distancing and other norms

The influx of tourists, at a time when a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases is being reported, is not going down well with residents of tourist destinations. They are especially angry with tourists who do not follow social distancing and other norms.

After Kodagu voluntarily suspended tourism temporarily in view of the increasing cases, other popular tourist destinations are seeking similar action to keep the virus from spreading. Residents of Chikkamagaluru protested this weekend after a huge number of tourists swarmed popular destinations. G. Veeresh, honorary wildlife warden, Chikkamagaluru, said Mullayanagiri, Kemmangundi and Mudigere were flooded with tourists who were not following any precautionary protocols, such as wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.

“There was a huge number of vehicles, mostly with Bengaluru, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh registration numbers. After the lockdown was eased, this weekend was full of tourists. Locals who fear the spread of the virus opposed this. We have also requested for forest areas not to open as we have the Bhadra tiger reserve, Kudremukh, etc. After Kodagu shut down tourism, locals want similar action as they will be affected,” he said. He also said the massive crowds in Chikkamagaluru was a result of Kodagu shutting down tourism, making people change their plans. “Monsoon has set in and it gets cold here. We don’t want to take chances if the virus can thrive in this weather. We want temporary suspension of tourism,” he added.

Eventually, Chikkamagaluru Deputy Commissioner Bagadi Gautam put out an appeal to people to avoid visiting the tourist places in Chikkamagaluru till the pandemic is brought under control. Some villages near Dandeli in Uttaraka Kannada too are putting up resistance to tourism. Ravi Kumar Nayak, a resident of Dandeli who is a rafting operator, said several homestays and resorts were located in a 20-km radius of Dandeli’s forests at isolated destinations.

“There are guidelines and restrictions in place. People from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and other States with high number of cases are not allowed. A majorfity of the people used to be from Maharashtra, but that’s not there now. The overall crowd must be 30% of the usual, as rafting and other activities are not operational. But the locals are scared that those coming from cities, such as Bengaluru, where cases are increasing rapidly, will spread the virus here,” he said. Like the Chikkamagaluru DC, sources in the Tourism Department too said it would be wise for people to put travel plans on hold for now. But there are no plans of suspension.

Tourism Minister C.T. Ravi told The Hindu that the opposition was mainly due to the locals’ fear of the virus spreading in their districts.

“District administrations are taking a call based on the situation. In Kodagu, tourism has been temporarily suspended, while in Chikkamagaluru, the DC has appealed to people not to travel to the district,” he said.

Asked if the elaborate norms are being followed, he said he had received complaints of violations from the weekend mess in Chikkamagaluru.

“We heard that people followed protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing at the check-post, but not after they entered the destinations. Some people have been penalised too,” he added.

(With additional inputs by Sathish G.T. in Hassan)

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:29:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/locals-resist-influx-of-tourists-asnumber-of-infections-increase/article31956925.ece

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