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Tourist Drought – Cover Story News

Tourism in states that depend heavily on the industry has been hit severely, with small business owners bearing the brunt.

Salim, 40 Elephant owner, Amer Fort, Jaipur. Photo by: Purushottam Diwakar

Salim is one of a few dozen who offer elephant rides in Jaipur’s Amer Fort, a big tourist attraction. There are 103 elephants here and the total daily earning from these rides is about Rs 4,000 in tourist season. Of which, the upkeep of the elephants, Salim says, accounts for Rs 3,000.

Salim, 40 Elephant owner, Amer Fort, Jaipur. Photo by: Purushottam Diwakar

With the government shutting down Amer Fort (and all other centrally-protected ASI monuments) till end-March, Salim is worried about how he is going to take care of the elephants and his family. Two-thirds of all hotel bookings have been cancelled in Rajasthan, with corresponding decline in visitors to monuments like Chittorgarh Fort and tiger reserves such as Ranthambore. Hoteliers are finding it hard to pay staff salaries and the slowdown has had a cascading effect on sales of handicrafts and other locally-produced items.

Tourism prospects are as grim in Kerala, India’s leading tourist destination. Kerala’s hoped-for tourism revival this year, after two back-to-back floods, took their toll, is looking a distant dream. We don’t have foreign guests and most of the bookings in March-April have been cancelled. This season is lost, says Asish Nair, spokesman of The Raviz, Kovalam. Hill stations and beaches, which attract the maximum number of tourists in the state, are out of bounds after the COVID-19 outbreak. The state forest department has closed down eco-tourism centres and state-run guest houses have cancelled all bookings other than for government servants. We’ve been out of business for the past 40 days. If the situation continues, there will be suicides in the houseboat industry, says Joseph Abraham, who works as crew on a houseboat. has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.
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