Post-floods, Kodagu is still longing to draw in tourists
While hoteliers lament fall in arrivals, some other stakeholders are satisfiedby Shankar Bennur
How many tourists did Kodagu, the land of misty hills, attract in the recent flood-ravaged years?
If the statistics shared by the Tourism Department are to be believed, Kodagu recorded a moderately good number of tourists in 2018 and 2019, the years that the district witnessed devastating floods and landslides.
Stakeholders in the tourism industry had stated in the past that back-to-back floods and landslides had a major impact on tourist footfall, eventually forcing the district administration to intervene and take up confidence-building measures, telling tourists that Kodagu was safe to visit.
The Tourism Department’s statistics reveal that 17 lakh visited Kodagu in 2018 and 18 lakh in 2019. This means the flood-ravaged years did attract tourists contrary to what the stakeholders had claimed.
“These figures are based on the gate collections at the famous tourist spots in Madikeri, especially Raja Seat, Cauvery Nisargadhama near Kushalnagar, and Archaeology Museum. The number would be even more if we had accounted for the footfall at Iruppu falls and other destinations,” argues Raghavendra, Assistant Director, Tourism Department, Madikeri.
He told The Hindu that in the years before the floods and landslides Kodagu used to attract less than two million visitors and the footfall data collected for the last two years was in tune with the method practised since over five years.
“The footfall had dropped substantially only during the months of floods and landslides and their subsequent period but not the entire year,” he maintained.
However, the Kodagu Hotels, Restaurants and Resorts’ Owners’ Association and other stakeholders, citing drop in tourists’ numbers, had sought the government’s intervention for boosting the footfall with promotions as they claimed that tourists were reluctant to visit the hill station after the two successive calamities that destroyed properties worth crores of rupees. It therefore drove the coalition government to hold Kodagu Pravasi Utsav last year to attract tourists.
Association President B.R. Nagendra Prasad said the tourists’ arrivals had dropped by almost half when compared to the years before the floods which used to draw not less than 30-35 lakh annually. Weekends used to draw around one lakh tourists and the number has dropped to 10,000, he added.
Kodagu has around 30,000 rooms and all of them used to get occupied during the season in the past (before floods). There were situations when tourists used to spend their nights in their vehicles, unable to get rooms. Such was the scenario, said Mr. Prasad. “Contrary to the statistics of Tourism Department, we continue to argue that Kodagu tourism hasn’t returned to its past glory. The recovery process is still on.”