Be it because of the frustration over being locked up at home, or because of wanderlust being too great to ignore, tourism is said to be picking up again in Karnataka.
Because of rising COVID-19 cases and the fear of fresh cases, many popular destinations such as Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru closed their doors soon after tourism was given the nod to unlock. But things have started looking up, according to operators and tourist property managements.
Karnataka State Tourism Corporation (KSTDC) managing director Kumar Pushkar said all KSTDC properties were open, except the one at Udhagamandalam, which will open on Monday. “We are getting a mixed response. At some places, we are doing very well, while at others, there is lukewarm response. But tourism is definitely picking up,” he said.
Mr. Pushkar added that KSTDC properties at Kodagu, Jog Falls, Nandi Hills, and Srirangapatna were doing very well. On the other hand, things were yet to pick up at those in North Karnataka, such as Hampi, Badami, and Vijayapura.
M. Ravi, joint secretary of Karnataka Tourism Society and vice-president of Karnataka Tourism Forum, too said many accommodations have started reporting good business of late. “Visitors are travelling to places such as Kodagu, Kabini, Chikkamagaluru, Sakleshpur, and trickle to Hampi as well. Mysuru is also seeing some visitors. Most are from Bengaluru, and a few from Hyderabad and Chennai. The weekends have been very good,” he said. Most people are travelling in their own vehicles though, as apprehensions about public and shared transport continue, he added.
For tourist accommodations, it has been trying times, first with the lockdown, then the struggle to woo back tourists, and now with ensuring the safety of guests and staff as well as the locals. Rachel Ravi from Red Earth Group of Resorts said that they have now started seeing traffic from Bengaluru, especially to Kabini which is close to Bengaluru, along with Gokarna.
“After months of lockdown, people are frustrated. Now, we are seeing really good traction even during the weekdays because of the flexibility to do a staycation. In our Gokarna property, we have guests staying for 15 to 20 days with pets. They see these as safe zones,” she said. But there is the aspect of preventing spread of the virus in rural areas. “We have the added responsibility of ensuring that does not happen, so we are being very strict. Guests have to wear masks and maintain social distancing. We already had an in-house laundry, for example. But cleaning now is what takes time as we have to disinfect. We are taking longer to hand over rooms to the next guest,” she said. Most guests now are repeat clientèle and their friends and family, she added.
Though the sector was seen offering huge discounts initially, tariffs are getting back to normal gradually, though properties are still giving flexible cancellation options to beat these “grey times”.