'Masinagudy vazhi Ooty' trips and Wayanad tourism suffer due to Madras HC restrictions

The eco – tourism centres in Wayanad were closed down following a few cases of attacks by wild animals. Photo: Shutterstock/mahfoozcc

Kalpetta: The tourism sector in Wayanad suffered a setback when the Madras High Court recently ordered restrictions on the viral ‘Ooty via Masinagudy’ trips. The Court took this drastic step considering the uncontrollable crowds and the harsh summer that has led to water shortages in many places. However, this order has indirectly affected the tourism prospects of Wayanad which lies close to Ooty. The latest order by the highest court in our neighbouring state has made a dent in the tourism industry in Wayanad which was already struggling.

All the major tourism spots in the district remain shut after the eco-tourism centres were closed down a few months ago. Most people came to Wayanad on two–day tour packages that involved many places in Wayanad and Ooty. After the restrictions came into place, tourists have been reluctant to visit Ooty. As a result, trips to Wayanad too began getting cancelled. The restrictions are valid from May 7 to June 30. The High Court ordered that only those who have e–pass should be allowed to enter Ooty.

Eco–tourist centres closed down
The eco-tourism centres in Wayanad were closed down following a few cases of attacks by wild animals. This led to the shutting down of around seven major tourist attractions in the district. Anish B Nair, an office bearer of the Hotel and Restaurant Association says that most people cut down their two–day trip to Wayanad to just a single day. Earlier, tourists who came from the southern districts preferred spending at least two days in Wayanad. However, since the eco-tourism centres were closed down, they opted to travel to Ooty from Wayanad.

Visitors from the southern districts would begin their journey the previous night and reach Wayanad by morning. After visiting the various tourist spots, they spent the night in Wayanad. The next morning, they travelled to Ooty and returned to Kerala by evening. Many tour operators were keen to book rooms in Wayanad as the room rent is quite pricey in Ooty. When restrictions are imposed on tourists to Ooty, people are less likely to visit Wayanad alone, especially because the eco-tourism centres here remain closed. Compared to last year, there has been a decline of around 30% in the number of tourists visiting Wayanad. Anish says that it may go up to 50% considering the latest restrictions in Ooty.

Water shortage, traffic blocks in Ooty
As crowds began swarming Ooty, heavy traffic blocks became a common thing. The authorities were finding it difficult to control the heavy traffic and crowds. People had to wait for hours in the traffic blocks from Gudallur to Ooty. Meanwhile, the water resources too dried up in the harsh summer. The water shortage has become so severe that the beds of some of the dams in Ooty are visible. The functioning of the hotels has also been affected due to water shortage. Moreover, the uncontrollable crowds in the forest areas and the increase in the number of vehicles have begun taking a toll on the environment too. At this point, the Court was forced to intervene and issued the order imposing restrictions.

The eco – tourism centres in Wayanad were closed down following a few cases of attacks by wild animals. File Photo

The daily lives of the residents too were affected as the number of tourists reaching Ooty on holidays broke all limits. Besides, accidents became common in the mountain passes as the vehicles of tourists from Kerala got stuck here in unending lines. Those who began their journey from Gudallur early in the morning could manage to reach Ooty only by midnight. It is estimated that around 20,000 vehicles reach Ooty daily. Even though the restrictions may bring joy to the residents of Ooty, those who work in the tourism industry aren’t thrilled. The viral route to Ooty via Bathery – Gundelpet – Masinagudy was in fact an alternative to the Gudallur route. It is assumed that the restrictions in this route too may affect the tourism prospects of Wayanad district. 

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