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Tourist footfall low due to pandemic, scaled-down Dasara

The usual sight of sea of humanity at Chamundi Hills, palace, zoo is missing this time

Halfway through Dasara, places of tourist interest in the city including Chamundi Hills, palace and zoo are wearing a deserted look and the revival of the sector is a long haul ahead.

Though the city roads tend to be choked with traffic at night, it is mainly due to local people driving in their private vehicles to witness the illumination of the streets. The tourist spots are barely getting any visitors.

In normal times, Chamundeshwari temple atop the Chamundi Hills is a must-visit during Navaratri not only for the thousands of tourists but also for the local people. The rush would be such that it would take anywhere between 2 hour to 3 hours for a fleeting darshan of Goddess Chamundeshwari. But the pandemic has kept the visitors away.

Shashishekar Dixit, chief priest of the temple, told The Hindu that the past four days since the commencement of Dasara has seen limited footfall. “We have not received more than 1,500 to 2,000 devotees and tourists per day since the commencement of Dasara. In the earlier years, the crowd would be unmanageable requiring a special queue which too would be highly patronised.’’ But the footfall is higher than what it was during July when the Muzrai temples were opened after the lockdown, he added.

The situation is similar at the Mysuru palace which used to received anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 tourists per day during Dasara every year. But since October 1, the footfall has hovered below 1,000 visitors on most days. It crossed the 2,000 mark only on four occasions this month so far. On Monday, there were 752 visitors. The Mysuru zoo – which is otherwise closed for visitors on Tuesdays but kept open on October 20 in anticipation of tourists – received less than 500 people.

The hospitality sector too is not faring any better. “There are nearly 2,000 registered taxis in Mysuru catering to tourists and they tend to be booked in advance during Dasara. But only 20 per cent of them are plying due to poor demand’’, said Prashanth of Mysore Travels Association.

Narayana Gowda, representing the hospitality sector, said there was nearly 25 per cent bookings but the occupancy rate in properties outside the city limits was less than 15 per cent. This is the lowest occupancy rate ever for Mysuru, he added ,

The peak tourism season would commence with Dasara and peak from the second half of October every year. But tourism revival is not a priority for a majority of people grappling with challenges of managing with reduced income and insecurity over jobs. For now, remaining safe till the pandemic subsides is the priority.

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