Rain ravaged Kodagu's tourism income hit
Tourism income of rain-ravaged Kodagu, has bottomed out to an all-time low due to floods and landslides this year. Three monsoon spells battered Kodagu this year.
Tourism is a major industry in scenic Kodagu, and a large contributor to the district’s economy. Tour operators feel that it may take years for Kodagu to make good this year’s losses.
The ongoing spell of rain which started last Thursday was severe. Sans a break on Saturday, when Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy paid a brief visit to the district to inspect rain-hit areas in Kodagu, thunderstorms have lashed the district incessantly.
Kodagu’s economy hinges largely on two sources of income– agriculture (coffee and spices)– and tourism.
Though the district suffers from lack of basic infrastructure and consistent governmental neglect, it contributes significantly to the state’s coffers.
If coffee and cash crops fail due to climatic extremities, Kodavas rely heavily on the tourist traffic to supplement their income.
Kodagu is famous for its hundreds of affordable, bed-and-breakfast, homestays which draw lakhs of tourists from across the country during summer and winter. Tourists visit Kodagu for its delectable cuisine, generally salubrious weather and scenic sights.
Tourism as an industry, flourishes in Kodagu and provides jobs to thousands of locals. Even agricultural labour is involved in tourism when there is no coffee picking.
Even big hospitality players like Taj Madikeri Resort & Spa, are affected this year by the slump in tourist traffic. The route to the hotel is blocked and rain has damaged few rooms.
All rooms, suites and dormitory beds of Hotel Mayura Valley View (a Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation undertaking), were initially booked till August 21. There were bookings made for December as well. But most guests have cancelled bookings, following storms.
G R Kiran, manager of Mayura in Madikeri said that only one couple was staying in the hotel on Sunday and bookings till October stand cancelled.
“The lull in business started this weekend. Kodagu is normally bustling on weekends. We remain busy with guests till they leave on Monday. Rains changed everything. It may take years to recover our losses” said Mythri, a homestay owner.
B S Harish, a plantation manager, said that the coffee and spice harvests would fail this year. “Once synonymous with Kodagu, orange orchards are a rarity now. Paddy cultivation is impossible now,” he rued.
K Sridhar, a spice trader, said coffee and spices trade was controlled by Kerala migrants. “Local traders are affected. As a farmer myself, I have lost all my produce. Plantation owners and farm labour are worst hit,” he said.
Middlemen to make hay
Requesting anonymity, a government officer said that come flood or drought; only politicians, officials, contractors and middlemen stand to benefit. “They make commissions in flood relief and other infrastructure repairs,” the official added.
K A Monappa, an ex-serviceman demanded a long-term and sustainable plan for the reconstruction of the district. “Climatic vagaries must be accounted for,” he added.