The Nipah virus scare and heavy rain have dealt a twin blow to the tourism sector with hotels and resorts reporting cancellations despite low tariffs.
Almost all major hotels and resorts in Munnar had reduced room tariff as they anticipated good tourist arrivals before the Neelakurinji season. However, the tourism town has had few visitors since the beginning of the monsoon season. The manager of a hotel group said there was a drop in the bookings compared to the last few monsoon seasons, mainly owing to the Nipah virus scare and heavy rain.
The drop in tourist arrivals has affected other stakeholders as well, including taxi services.
Karthikeyan, a taxi service provider in Munnar, told
that there was a drop of over 70% in tourist arrivals to Munnar this time. He said Nipah infection and landslips caused by the rain, especially on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway passing through Munnar, had resulted in to poor tourist arrivals. There was steep decline in the number of Arab tourists expected to reach Munnar during this holiday season. However, tourism activities may get a boost once the monsoon subsides. Curbs on night travel on the Ghat roads had also resulted in cancellation of bookings. He said there was 60% to 80% drop in tourist arrivals in Munnar.
The season of tourists from European countries is slowly arriving, how it would affect them also is unpredictable, he said.
An official of the District Tourism Promotion Council, Munnar, attributed the fall in arrivals from Arab countries to the Nipah virus scare. An employee of a travel agency, which has tie-up with Mumbai and Delhi-based agencies, said an advisory given to the citizens of foreign countries still prevailed and many kept away from visiting South India. One cannot predict the trend in the case of European tourists as of now.
Thekkady too hit
Thekkady, the second main tourism destination in the district, also witnessed a drop in tourist arrivals. Jomon George, a travel agent said the two factors that led to the poor tourist arrival were nipah virus scare and cancellation of boating in the Thekkady lake during the extreme summer season and this monsoon season.
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