Tamil Nadu

Tourism sector hit in the Nilgiris

Rose garden, Ooty. The department of horticulture has imposed restrictions on visitors to the gardens and parks in the Nilgiris.   | Photo Credit: M. Sathyamoorthy

Tourism to the Nilgiris has reduced by almost 70% since January this year, due to the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.

According to data available on visitors to the popular tourist locations in the district, such as the Horticulture farm in Kallar, the Kattery Park, Doddabetta Tea Park, Government Botanical Garden, the Rose Garden, Sims Park and the Arboretum, the average number of visitors during the weekends has dropped to just a little over 2,000 visitors. It stood at around 15,000 prior to the surge in cases.

Of the 2,000 visitors visiting the Nilgiris each day, it is estimated that at least a quarter are day-trippers from neighbouring districts.

“There was an initial reduction in the number of visitors following an announcement in restrictions by the district administration in February, when the average number of visitors reduced by around 50 %. However, the recent surge in cases has put off many more from travelling to the Nilgiris, with less than 2,000 people visiting the Government Botanical Garden, the biggest tourist attraction in the Nilgiris, since Monday,” said an official from the tourism department.

N. Chandrashekar, honorary secretary of the Nilgiris Hotels and Restaurant Owners’ Association, said that many hotels were reporting single-digit occupancy rates during the weekend. “Many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and it seems likely that this season too will be a write-off due to the pandemic,” said Mr. Chandrashekar.

The department of horticulture has imposed restrictions on visitors to the gardens and parks in the Nilgiris. Assistant Director of Horticulture, Nilgiris, M.Radhakrishnan, said the lawns in the garden are closed to the public, while visitors are only allowed to stay in the garden for one hour after entering. “Other restrictions include allowing only 15 people to enter the Glass House at a time,” he said.

Many tourists said that such restrictions were discouraging them from visiting the parks and gardens.

R. Narasiman, a tourist from Chennai, said that the main draw of the gardens were the lawns, which tourists used as spaces for recreation. “We understand the reasons for them closing the lawns, and for the restrictions. But it makes a lot of tourists reconsider visiting the district in general,” he said.

Many hoteliers said that cancellations were increasing over the last week, especially from tourists from Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:02:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tourism-sector-hit-in-the-nilgiris/article34349613.ece

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