A road in the flood-hit Kadagu district in Karnataka after heavy rains and landslides. (PTI)
On the road to recovery after floods that brought daily life to a standstill in Kerala and parts of Karnataka, killing hundreds, the tourism industry continues to suffer loss of income. The lush, hilly districts of Wayanad in Kerala and neighbouring Kodagu in Karnataka usually attract thousands of tourists all through the year, but this August was an exception.
While several tourists visiting the region remained trapped in resorts for days, many others stayed away from coming at all. Pookode Lake in Wayanad district, among the major tourist destinations, remained deserted, indicating an economic fallout of the floods this monsoon season.
Tourist inflow had dropped after heavy rain followed by landslides and road blockage. When NDTV visited the Pookode Lake, ticket counters were closed and boats lay unused.
“There are usually more than a 1,000 visitors a day at this time of the year. Now there is nobody. It is a big loss,” Rajeev, who works at the lake, told NDTV.
A restaurant at the popular tourist spot was forced to turn itself into a shelter for the rain refugees. The usual supply of food was cooked — not to serve tourists, but for those who had taken shelter after abandoning their homes because of the rain.
Local shops set up in Wayanad for tourists on the highway that sold products including spices, cardamom, pepper and coffee, were either closed or remained isolated.
In neighbouring Karnataka’s Kodagu district, the district collector had instructed homestays and resorts not to take in guests till August 31.
Like in Wayanad, there was a decline in sales at the local shops in Kodagu district as well. “No tourists, no business. It has been days since we had a single sale. August is usually a busy time, but now there is nobody because of the rain. There is no work for people,” the manager of one of the shops said.
As the flood-hit districts in Karnataka limp back to normalcy, it is expected to take time for the tourism industry to bounce back and earn good revenue once again.
Kodagu’s villages, towns and public infrastructure were severely damaged after torrential rain during the southwest monsoon from August 14-22.
According to preliminary estimates, the district suffered losses worth Rs 1,140 crore to public and private properties as a result of the rain, Kodagu Deputy Commissioner P Sreevidya was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying last month.
Karnataka had sought Rs 2,000 crore interim relief from the centre for rehabilitation measures, to which Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the aid will be announced only after an assessment of the losses.