Cauvery unrest stifles tourist flow
Hotel bookings, package tours take a hit; industry pins hopes on Dasara
The tourism sector in Mysore has taken a major hit this season owing to the Cauvery unrest. Also, the Mysore Dasara festivities, which were even otherwise intended to be a low-key affair because of the drought situation, have lost their usual sheen.
The footfalls this season have drastically decreased with continued cancellation of hotel bookings and package tours.
The scenario was so bleak that the State-run Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation’s (KSTDC) prime properties in the Mysore region namely Cauvery Hotel in KRS, River View in Srirangapatna, Hoysala and Yatri Nivas in Mysore, Valley View in Madikeri, Yatri Nivas in Bhagamandala and Sudarshan in Ooty, all registered abysmal bookings.
The Cauvery Hotel in KRS registered zero booking in the last few days, said C D Dyavaiah, managing director of KSTDC. “The Mysore sector has seen 68.5 per cent reduction in occupancy. The revenue gap for packaged tours between last year and this year is Rs 19.5 lakh, while for the hotels it is Rs 12 lakh.
But, things are improving slowly. Presently, there is 20 per cent booking for the first five days of Dasara,” he said.
According to M Rajendra, president of Mysore Hotel Owners’ Association, occupancy rates had dipped to as low as five to six per cent in the last 10 days. However, enquiries were slowly picking up in the last two to three days.
“About 90 per cent of the business has been hit. The packaged tours too have been badly hit. Hope the demand will go up in the last three days of Dasara at least, as the enquiries are slowly picking up. At present, the occupancy rate is about 20 per cent,” he added. Mysore has over 450 hotels, with about 5,000 rooms.
S Mahalingaiah, director of Skyway International Travels, Bangalore, said his agency, which conducts package tours in South India, had lost business to the tune of Rs 50 lakh in the last 10 days.
“With the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border blocked, we were forced to change vehicles carrying tourists in Mudumalai, creating panic among the travellers. Immediately after this, most foreign tourists cancelled their bookings. People have cancelled their bookings till as far away as January next,“ he said.
To add to the industry’s woes, the farmers’ forums are threatening more agitations.
The old Mysore region, which was gripped by the Cauvery agitation, may be slowly returning to normalcy. But, farmers of the region have another bone to pick with the government. This time their contention is sugarcane prices.
The farmers are so upset with the government’s “nonchalance,” that they have threatened to block the Bangalore-Mysore highway on October 22 and 23, with bullock carts and cattle.
K S Puttannaiah of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha minced no words when he said the farmers would “disrupt Dasara festivities”. “When the government can’t safeguard the interests of the farmers, why should we allow it to indulge in Dasara celebrations? We are sure to disrupt the festivities if our demands are not met immediately”.