Drought, forest fires likely to affect tourism industry

 
14 March 2017

published by http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com


India BENGALURU: This summer may not be a time for happy holidays. After the cash crunch, drought, acute water crisis and forest fires could inflict a triple whammy on Karnataka's tourism industry.

Fear is mounting that the peak summer tourism, spanning the next three months, will take a hit if the state doesn't see some good rain soon. According to Met officials, Karnataka is experiencing its lowest rainfall in the last 40-50 years. "While April to June is the peak season for tourism in Karnataka, this year doesn't look encoura ging because of drought, water scarcity and forest fires," said tourism minister Priyank Kharge.

With less than a month to go before thousands head to water destinations and hill stations for holidays, hotel, resort and homestay owners are fearing the worst. For, with reservoirs and waterfalls fast drying up, they are likely to bear the maximum brunt.

"Summer is the time when tourists from all over the world flock to the beautiful state. But this year the trend may not continue if the situation doesn't improve.Water scarcity across the state has made it difficult for tourists to decide where to spend their summer vacation or head for a weekend trip.Water-tourism destinations are likely to suffer the most," said Sandeep Shetty, a professional travel blogger.

The state jungle lodges and resorts are already facing the heat. Kharge, however, said they have been preparing for the crisis, with many lodges going for new borewells. About 80% of the state-run lodges were dependent on nearby tanks, which have gone dry .

"We haven't yet seen a de cline in business, but if the problem persists we could reach a point where we'd have to let people know about water scarcity. And that could lead to cancellation of bookings," said a manager of Kabini Jun gle Lodges.

Domestic visitors who were hoping to chill out in the cooler confines of hill stations when mercury in the plains soars are losing hope. Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru, once summer retreats for the British, are severely hit by water scarcity today , and are already registering record high temperatures.

Travel operators in Kodagu said they have recorded a dip in the number of bookings. In fact, some say that many tourists have altered their plans this year, preferring to spend their summer breaks overseas or in other states. "The cost of importing water might push up room rates too," they pointed out.

Tourism officials expecting more footfall at wildlife sanctuaries said the many forest fires reported recently could affect business. The suspected man-made fires in Bandipur and Biligirirangana temple hills, a popular tourist attraction, destroyed hundreds of hectares of forests.