With tourism spots administered by the Department of Forest opening to the public from Monday, hotel, restaurant and small business owners hope that the coming weeks will help the tourism and hospitality sector in the Nilgiris rebound from the slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parks and gardens run by the Horticulture Department as well as tourism spots operated by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, such as the Ooty Lake and Boat House and the Pykara Dam opened to the public on August 23.
Meanwhile, the Eco-Development Committees (EDCs), which assist the Forest Department administer ecologically-sensitive areas such as the Ninth Mile Shooting Spot, a grassland in Wenlock Downs Reserve Forest, Pykara Falls, Avalanche, and other areas were thrown open to tourists and to the public on Monday.
Officials said that the ease in restrictions to the Nilgiris from neighbouring Karnataka, combined with the Krishna Jayanthi holiday on Monday had led to a high number of tourists in the Nilgiris. Inflow into the Government Botanical Garden over the weekend, and on Krishna Jayanthi totalled 10,813 visitors.
According to Horticulture Department officials, the visitors to the district over the weekend and on Monday comprised almost 60 percent of all visitors since the district reopened tourism spots on August 23.
Hotel owners in the Nilgiris said they were happy to see tourists returning to the district and hoped that the reopening of tourism spots would entice more visitors.
“The second wave led to the cancellation of summer festival, during which time most businesses gain a substantial portion of their income. We hope that the ‘second season’ will be a success with more tourists visiting,” said a hotel owner in Udhagamandalam town.
While all EDCs administered by the Forest Department opened to visitors from Monday, the Doddabetta Peak remained closed due to damage to a road leading to the peak caused by heavy rains in the Nilgiris over the last week.