Kerala COVID-19 spike upsets tourism in Mysuru, Kodagu

Travellers withdrawing hotel bookings over conditions imposed on visits

The tourism industry that was on the path of recovery after a disturbing 2020 over the COVID-19 pandemic is once again staring at an uncertain fate after the spike in infections in neighbouring Kerala, and the curbs that followed.

The restrictions imposed by the State government on the entry of people from Kerala has affected the overall tourist footfall in Mysuru and Kodagu, a drop of 30-40 per cent. People with negative reports of the tests done within 72 hours are entering the borders but their numbers are small.

The hotels in Mysuru and homestays and resorts in Kodagu are reporting cancellation of bookings of visitors from Kerala in view of the stricter rules imposed in the State with a compulsory RT-PCR test for the people coming from the neighbouring State.

The surveillance at border checkposts in Mysuru and Kodagu has also contributed to the fall in tourist inflow, said stakeholders of the tourism sector with whom The Hindu spoke.

B.S. Prashanth, President, Mysuru Travels’ Association, said he had received information from his travel agents in Kodagu that bookings were getting cancelled after the curbs were brought in. “We are in a helpless situation. The industry that was seeing some hope after a surge in visitors is once again being pushed to a crisis situation.”

In Mysuru, the hotel occupancy which was around 70 per cent till recently, is down by 30 per cent.

Mysuru Hotel Owners’ Association President Narayana Gowda said running the business is now difficult, with no relief whatsoever from the government. “When the industry is facing crisis after crisis, the government is busy collecting taxes from us.”

Mr. Gowda said the association has requested the district authorities to ensure that the tourists are not subjected to harassment in the name of screening and testing as recovery post-pandemic may get prolonged even further.

“We have no objection to the steps taken for controlling the contagion but the tourists should not face pestering that affects the tourism industry which is giving livelihood to lakhs of families,” he argued.

B.R. Nagendra Prasad, President, Kodagu Hotels, Restaurants and Resorts Association, said Kerala tourists have stopped visiting Kodagu with strict vigil at the border check-posts for controlling the COVID-19 spread.

Fresh worries for zoo

Instead of recording the footfall of pre-COVID-19 days, the Mysuru zoo is witnessing lesser turnout of visitors, causing fresh worries to the management. The unexpected fall comes just as the weekend turnout had crossed 7,000-8,000 after the pandemic cases dropped substantially since the beginning of 2021.

The weekend footfall is almost down by 3,000.

Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni told The Hindu that the footfall to the zoo had been affected with drop in visitors from Kerala.

The zoo maintenance was solely dependent on the gate collection. If the revenue falls, it will have a direct impact on its maintenance.

“The zoo needs a sum of ₹7 lakh a day to meet the expenditure and the maintenance of animals and birds. We are yet to get this sum and we hope the footfall picks up further so that we can be become sustainable post COVID-19,” according to zoo sources.

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