Madikeri, Karnataka, Apr 21 : Despite Kodagu getting back to normal after devastating rain and floods during previous monsoon that wreaked a havoc in the local economy, footfall in the major tourist destination in Karnataka has not improved as expected with hotels and resorts witnessing poor occupancy.
Kodagu has seen an unprecedented drop in tourist arrivals this year. Tourism has not picked up after the devastating floods and landslides the coffee land witnessed a few months ago. Tourism in the Coffee Land seems to be in a deep crisis with many hotel properties in Madikeri and Kushalnagar, the two busiest tourist destinations, put up for sale. The stakeholders are unable to cope with the loss in business with continued drop in tourist arrivals since the devastating floods and landslides which hit large parts of Kodagu last year.
Though the hill station has recovered from the natural calamity, tourism is yet to pick up despite efforts from both the government as well as the stakeholders coming up with a series of promotional events.
“Unable to bear the loss, some hotels have shut down their operations. Without business, it had become difficult for them to bear the expenses and pay the salaries of hotel staff,” said B. R. Nagendra Prasad, President, Kodagu Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association.
He said that Kodagu tourism industry had never faced such a crisis in the recent decades. “There used to be times when tourists used to take even a modest room, with few rooms available across the district especially in peak season. Now, the situation is altogether different and the industry is turning out to be sick.”
Also, there have been no takers for the properties put up for sale and hotel room occupancy has not crossed 30 per cent over the last few weeks.
Since March, the situation has turned worse because of the school and college examinations and the Lok Sabha elections. People running hotels and restaurants were unable to pay their bank loan installments with poor business.
The industry is at the crossroads despite the best efforts to bring tourists to the hill station by the Department of Tourism which carried out a series of activities, including the Kodagu Pravasi Utsav in January.
Kodagu has about 5,000 rooms in hotels and resorts and unconfirmed statistics put the number of rooms in homestays at 20,000. “Kodagu alone has 4,000 home-stays. All put together, Kodagu has over 30,000 rooms. All these rooms used to get filled up when tourism was thriving in the hill station before the floods struck the land,” stakeholders said.
Mr Prasad said Kodagu is safe to visit at all months of the year including monsoon, where the rainy season can be enjoyed at its utmost grangure. Yet, the pictures of last year’s calamity still linger in the minds of tourists.
There have been tourists but most of them were locals.
Despite road shows in neighbouring States and aggressive social media campaigns, tourism is yet to bounce back, putting a big question mark on the industry’s fate in the years ahead.