Mysuru wears deserted look amid lockdown restrictions

Published on : Friday, May 28, 2021

Many people visit Mysuru as a summer destination, and the city witnesses maximum tourist inflow during this time. However, due to the second wave of corona virus infections and subsequent lockdown, the Mysuru tourism industry is now devoid of the summer vacation crowd. Without the hustle-bustle of tourists, the streets of Mysuru now wear a desolate look.

The hotel industry is among the hardest-hit due to the lockdown restrictions. In Mysuru, there are more than 400 hotels, with a total of over 9,500 rooms, equipped to house no less than 35, 000 people. This includes 25 star hotels, of which 15 have been converted into paid quarantine centers currently.

In this summer of 2021, there is a lot of discontent among travel agents and tour operators. “The local economy in Mysuru relies heavily on tourism, and incomes of lakhs of people are determined by tourist in-flow. However, pandemic-induced restrictions and lockdowns have not only brought the tourism industry to a grinding halt, but also had a devastating impact on their livelihood. The loss per day due to the lockdown is estimated to be Rs 50 crore in Mysuru. Some people have resorted to alternative livelihood options like selling vegetables and farming. Others have dipped into their savings to keep their household running,” said BS Prashanth, President of Mysore Travel Agents Association. “Out of the 1000 persons employed in travel agencies, 40% have incurred job loss, 50% had to face salary cut, and 10% are going without salaries. We have urged the government to provide a three-month grace period for repayment of bank EMIs on loan taken for purchase of commercial vehicles and also waiver of their quarterly tax,” he added.

The effects of the lockdown are all-encompassing. Not just hotels or tour operators, guides and drivers who are part of packaged tours are also affected considerably. “The guides are in a state of despair. There is no safety net to fall back on. Monument guides are comfortable and can survive. But the woes of the local district guides are multi-fold. During the pre-pandemic days they were earning about Rs. 2000 per day, but now it is absolutely nil. At present, we have mobilised the distribution of kits to them to tide over the present crisis. We have urged the government to allow the local guides to work in monuments.” said SJ Ashok, President of the Mysuru Approved Tourist Guides Association.
Although Sudha Murthy, Infosys Foundation chairperson, has donated Rs. 10,000 each to around 300 tourist guides from seven different heritage hubs across the state, Mysuru has not been included in the list in spite of being a heritage city.

Street-side vendors and souvenir shops along with the ubiquitous Ashtanga Yoga centers have been forced to close their shutters.

The Mysuru Palace and Brindavan Gardens, which witness crowds from around the world, are vacant now. Revenue collection from ticket sales has also plummeted. The Mysuru Zoo also faced a cash crunch. Karnataka Tourism Society, a body of all stakeholders in tourism in Karnataka, had submitted requests for assisting the industry in May 2020, but those were not considered by the state or Union government.

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