Prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions dampen prospects of tourism

Tourists are heading to districts with fewer restricts

September 02, 2021 06:18 am | Updated 06:18 am IST - Bengaluru

A file photo of the Neelakurinji flowers in bloom.

A file photo of the Neelakurinji flowers in bloom.

The impact of the second wave of COVID 19 pandemic is continuing to make its presence felt on the tourism sector in some prime destinations as they continue to be under restrictions.

On August 30, Karnataka government withdrew weekend curfew in Belagavi, Bidar, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, Mysuru and Chamarajanagara districts, but decided to continue with restrictions in Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Udupi and Hassan districts.

The tourism sector is questioning the move, asking why crowd control is being exercised specifically in some districts and not in others.

M. Ravi, joint secretary of Karnataka Tourism Society, offered an example. “On August 31, a group of 36 flew from Hyderabad in Telangana to Kannur airport in Kerala. They wanted to go to Kodagu. A bus picked them up, but it was stopped at the border checkpost and they were told they can't enter Karnataka. All 36 had negative RT-PCR reports. They were allowed to resume their journey after an hour.”

The first impact of such restrictions is on tourism, he added. Though Mysuru is no longer on the list, prolonged restrictions impacted the tourism business, he said. “People from Bengaluru and other cities had to pass through Mysuru, and many usually stop over. Even that was not happening. Now Nandi Hills is also closed due to the landslide. The Tourism Minister is changed constantly, which is also a destabilising factor,” Mr. Ravi said.

B. R. Nagendra Prasad, president, Kodagu District Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants’ Association, said theirs has become a ‘neglected industry’.

“Even Kodagu politicians don’t care. We protested asking for weekend curfew to be lifted, but to no avail. Tourists are heading to other destinations. They just want to travel, not necessarily to a particular place. So, many are heading to Chikkamagaluru instead of Kodagu. The economy is also down. From auto drivers to petty shops to hotels, there is no business,” he said.

The industry got some respite for a week-and-a-half when the blooming of Neelakurinji flowers in Kodagu district attracted visitors, he said, but added, “This did not benefit local lodges and hotels. Only high-end hotels benefitted as they have formulated schemes to attract people, such as perks of membership and free one-night stay. Many smaller hotels have not even opened, because it costs lesser to remain closed.”

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