Rain hits monsoon tourism in State
The travel trade and hospitality industry are jittery over the cancellations in the last couple of days following the rain and floods in the State, travel curbs imposed in the hilly areas of Idukki and Wayanad, and weather alert issued to its citizens by the United States.
The inclement weather prevailing in the State had hit the burgeoning tourism industry badly at a time when it was returning to normalcy after the poor footfalls in the monsoon months of June and July due to Nipah virus outbreak.
Arab tourists, who had been flocking God’s Own Country during June and July, preferred to give a miss to the destination this year despite lifting of travel curbs imposed after the Nipah outbreak. A 30 per cent drop in tourist arrivals has been reported.
“The prime destinations of Wayanad and Munnar and the much sought-after Kochi-Munnar-Thekkady circuit had been hit by the recent monsoon fury. Many who have booked in advance are cancelling their trips as they do not want to travel to the landslip-prone areas of Idukki. On Saturday, we had 12 cancellations, ” says Abraham George, a Kochi-based tour operator and former president of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM).
There are incidents of domestic tourists landing in Kochi airport and returning after knowing about the travel curbs to Munnar. In some cases, the tour operators had to work out alternate packages for those who had already landed for holidaying.
Cancellations are pouring in for the Nehru Trophy boat race, which has been postponed. Uncertainty prevails over the three-month-long maiden IPL-model Champions Boat League (CBL). Flooding in Kuttanad has also affected the operations of houseboat, the mascot of Kerala Tourism.
The stake-holders of the industry are also keeping their fingers crossed over the footfalls to Munnar to witness the blooming of Neelakurinji that takes place once in 12 years. Citing travel curbs and landslips, over 50 per cent who had booked for the tailor-made packages has decided to give Munnar and the rare visual treat a miss this year.
The stake-holders are worried over the dip in tourist arrivals to Kochi. The Fort Kochi beach is under water for several weeks. The bad condition of roads across the State, especially to major destinations, is another headache. In Idukki alone, 263 km of roads were damaged in the floods and landslips.
Anish Kumar P.K, president, Association of Tourism and Trade Organisations India (ATTOI), said it was a temporary phenomenon and hoped that the footfalls would increase once the wet spell was over. Mr. George said Kerala Tourism had been asked to step in to launch campaign to overcome the shortfall in tourist arrivals.