‘Revenge tourism’ makes its presence felt in Karnataka

District administrations, tourism sector bat for ‘regulated tourism’

July 19, 2021 10:50 am | Updated 11:11 am IST - Bengaluru

Drawing crowds: Visitors at Venugopala Swamy Temple at Hosa Kannambadi near the backwaters of the Krishnaraja Sagar.

Drawing crowds: Visitors at Venugopala Swamy Temple at Hosa Kannambadi near the backwaters of the Krishnaraja Sagar.

As lockdowns were lifted in different parts of the country, visuals of people holidaying with a vengeance lead to many things: anxiety in lawmakers and the medical fraternity, relief for the battered tourism sector, and the coinage of a new term — ‘revenge tourism’. Sure enough, popular destinations in Karnataka have not been left behind from the trend.

The tourism circuit is witnessing huge footfalls in the State’s most famous travel hubs. In fact, most stakeholders agree that the response post the second wave lockdown is far higher than what was seen after the first wave restrictions were lifted.

M. Ravi, vice-president of Karnataka Tourism Forum, said tourist accommodations in popular destinations in the State, especially resorts, were booked to capacity till the long weekend of August. “Many properties are sold out. Sakleshpur, Chikmagalur and Kodagu are seeing good turnouts. This certainly fits the term revenge tourism,” he said.

While the resurrection of business is being welcomed by the sector, they are joining the chorus of sounding an alarm, calling for a more regulated approach.

With thousands of private vehicles thronging Mullayanagiri, they have suggested to the district administration to let mini coaches ferry visitors instead.

‘Strict protocols being observed’

Utham Hulikere, Chikmagalur district homestays association president, said since the lockdown opened up and restrictions were eased all over, a lot of people were heading to the district. “We are following very strict protocols; we’re allowing only 50% occupancy. We are calling guests for meals at different times. This way, the guests also feel safe because we notice a lot of families travelling now. The problem arrives when they travel to tourist spots and don’t follow protocols, creating apprehension among the local people,” he said.

The stakeholders met on Friday to discuss the way forward and among the suggestions for curbs were restricted timings at the tourist spots. “At the end of the day, it is economics — many have lost staff because they couldn’t pay to keep them, which in turn was because there was no income. Not that plantations are doing well either now. Homestay was a boost for planters. For months during the pandemic, properties were lying unused and they look run down. We have suggested that marshals should guide tourists on dos and don’ts at tourist spots,” he said.

Mr. Hulikere though does not agree with the new term being used to describe tourism. “People were tied up for two to three months and they are frustrated. They want to feel free. So the response is overwhelming. We are even seeing many extending their stay, especially family travellers. Revenge tourism is not exactly the term to use. After being holed up in apartments, with the second wave being so bad as it hit closer home, it has led to frustration,” he said.

B.H. Jayanth Pai, Chikmagalur district lodge and restaurants owners’ association president, said people were rushing to tourist spots post the lockdown, especially youngsters. “During the weekends, there are huge crowds. Homestays, hotels and restaurants are actually recovering from the three months they suffered,” he said. Monsoon tourism was also contributing, he said, offering the waterfalls in the Charmadi Ghats as an example of a huge draw for tourists.

But with the crowds come the problems associated with overtourism. “Trash is a huge problem. We’re not against tourism, but we are definitely against tourists polluting the area,” he said.

K.N. Ramesh, DC, Chikmagalur, told The Hindu that with a third wave imminent, strict enforcement of COVID guidelines was crucial. “In addition, tourists numbers are swelling. Apart from the pandemic, we also need to look at these spots as eco-sensitive zones. We will consult all stakeholders and come up with measures for regulated tourism. During the weekends, there are 1,500-2,000 vehicles in Mullayanagiri. This has to be controlled, along with coming up with long-term solutions,” he added.

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