Covid-19: Major blow to tourism sector in Coorg

04:35 PM May 16, 2020 | Sharanya Alva |
The tourism industry in Karnataka has been facing the brunt due to Covid-19 scare.  Especially Coorg has been hit hard due to the pandemic as it sees tourist from all over India during the summer season. Several tourist hotspots across Coorg has been forced to shut down temporarily to avoid the spread of the deadly virus. The district administration of Kodagu has banned entry to tourist spots. The entry to Raja Seat, Abbey Falls, Mandalpatti, Nisargadhama and Dubare has been banned. The shopkeepers in these tourist spots have shut their business establishments. Normally, resorts and homestays were buzzing with activities during summer. Without tourists, a majority of the homestays and resorts now wear a deserted look. The resort and homestay owners have incurred huge losses. Earlier, the back-to-back floods and landslides had a major impact on tourist footfall and various measures were taken by the government to increase the tourism activity in the district. Now, when the situation was almost getting normal, Covid-19 has impacted the tourist footfall in Kodagu. Sources claim, the district has incurred a loss of nearly Rs. 3 crore due to the lockdown. The district has nearly 800 registered home stays, over 2,000 unregistered home stays and 500 hotels and lodges, which give employment to around 50,000 people who now have no steady source of income. Tharun Thammana who owns several resorts and home stays in Coorg said, “ Covid-19 crisis is a major hit to the tourism industry. Only restaurants are functioning with takeaways but even then there is no huge market in Coorg unlike Bengaluru and other metropolitan cities. We have staffs working under us and we need to pay them their salary too.Government has not responded to our pleas and has not offered any kind of support” The hotel and resort owners have also asked for support from tie-up companies such as Oyo and Treebo who have offered them to help but till now they haven’t received any help. Apart from that, roadside vendors, auto and taxi drivers, and other small businessmen have been severely hit. Santhosh, President of Taxi drivers association (Kodagu) said, “Last year due to the landslide tourists were banned and this year Covid-19 lockdown has impacted tourists footfall. Also, Coorg sees more number of tourists in April, May, June. We had also written letter to the DC to atleast provide us with a kit. But, there is no response. Also, we have lot of pressure to pay our loan installments from financial institutions, but we have no money.” It is said that the hotel and restaurant owners have requested of waving off the loans taken from the banks in any other schemes. The Home Stay Association has also supported the move as it will take years together for these people to overcome the loss they have suffered. However, in the wake of Covid-19 impact on the Kodagu tourism sector, Tourism department has taken various measures to undertake development projects. Rs 455 lakhs have been estimated to develop the surrounding areas of Rajaseat and Rs 102 lakhs has been estimated to develop the parking facilities near Kaveri river in Dubare. Also, the estimated amount to build a Kodagu heritage centre in the  outskirts of Kodagu is  Rs 268 Lakhs. The estimated cost of the tourist infrastructure development project near Tavare Lake on Madikeri road in Kushalanagar is Rs. 20 lakhs. The estimated cost of construction of a changing room near the city's Omkareshwar temple is Rs 36.60 lakh Although, the development projects undertaken by the government will help in improving the Kodagu tourism sector in the long run, at present the people who are dependent on the tourism sector are left without a job and revenue and neither Karnataka government nor the district administration has taken steps to provide them necessary support.

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