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Dasara brought no cheer to the Mysuru zoo

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it attracted only 20,000 visitors in a span of 10 days this year compared to 1.65 lakh last year

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting damage on the tourism industry and the footfall at the Mysuru zoo, the city’s most populardestination, during this year’s Dasara and during the festivities last year clearly illustrate it.

In 10 Dasara days last year, the zoo had managed to attract a whopping 1.65 lakh visitors. This year, the number stood at just 20,000, reckoned to be lowest in its recent history. This number is less than what the zoo had drawn on Vijayadashami last year which was 28,386.

Dasara is one of the biggest tourism seasons as far as Mysuru is concerned and the footfall continues even after the entire festive season is over. The tourists’ inflow continues almost till the end of the year after Dasara season, bringing revenue to lakhs of people dependent on the industry.

This year, the tourist sites are struggling to get visitors after the lockdown curbs were unlocked, threatening their survival, including that of Mysuru zoo whose revenue at one point of time turned zero.

If the statistics of the last four years were noticed, the number of visitors during 10 days of Dasara had been on the rise every year, increasing the income. Footfall is key for the zoo’s maintenance since it does not get any grant from the government. The gate collection is the only source of income for looking after the well-being of animals, feeding costs and staff salaries.

In 2017 Dasara, the zoo attracted 1.23 lakh visitors which increased to 1.53 lakh and further rose to 1.65 lakh in 2019 Dasara.

Last year, ₹1.59 crore revenue was earned in a span of 10 days. It was ₹1.05 crore in 2018 and ₹69.17 lakh in 2017. But this year, the revenue earned was only ₹19.56 lakh in 10 days, considered the lowest in recent history.

Post-COVID-19, the zoo had managed to get between 2,000 and 3000 visitors on weekends and around 1,500 visitors on weekdays since last month. The highest single-day visitors to the zoo since the pandemic this year was 7,264 which was achieved on Vijayadashami. On the day of Ayudha Puja this year, 3,534 people visited the zoo. The single-day revenue on Vijayadashami Day this year was ₹7.33 lakh and ₹3.05 lakh on the day of Ayudha Puja, said Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni.

There were times when the zoo could earn ₹30 lakh in a single day in the form of gate collection. But, the pandemic devastated the tourism sector and the stakeholders continue to suffer losses, hoping for revival, if not this year, at least from next year, assuming the vaccine arrives early next year.

The number of visitors on Ayudha Puja day in the last four years is: 15,499 in 2017; 22,398 in 2018; 30,273 in 2019; and 3,534 in 2020. On Vijayadashami day, the footfall was 31,722 in 2017, 32,301 in 2018, 28,386 in 2019 and 7,264 in 2020. Last year, the zoo earned ₹29.77 lakh from gate collection on the day of Ayudha Puja and ₹28.28 lakh on the day of Vijayadashami.

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