Tourists seen at the Bryant park in Kodaikanal

Tourists seen at the Bryant park in Kodaikanal
| Photo Credit: KARTHIKEYAN G

Nearly 70,000 e-passes, as mandated by the Madras High Court, have been issued for vehicles to enter Kodaikanal so far this summer. However, the Kodaikanal Hotel and Resort Owners’ Association says the mandate has led to a decline in the number of tourists visiting the hill station this year.

Association president Abdul Gani Raja contends that the e-pass that all visitors have to obtain to enter the hill station from May 7 to June 30, has led to a decrease in tourist inflows, and has adversely impacted local businesses. “Business is brisk only during the summer vacation period. Many traders borrow money from private lenders and invest in their goods, hoping for a good tourist season. But business has been hit due to the decreased arrival of tourists,” he claimed. Those offering horse rides and bicycle on rents around the Kodaikanal lake also complained of poor business.

While the e-pass is issued to all applicants without any restrictions and the website is user-friendly, Mr. Raja said a section of tourists cancelled their trips due to lack of awareness about the system. “In fact, during the first three days (May 7 to 9), many hotels, resorts and home-stays in the hill station saw cancellations. Only after May 10 has there been some improvement in the tourist flow,” he added.

According to Mr. Raja, the number of tourists coming in for a day’s trip in hired vans and buses from nearby districts has also dropped. “The State government should give adequate publicity and create awareness about the e-pass system, he said.

A senior official from the Transport Department in Dindigul district said that from May 6 to May 14 (as of 10.30 a.m.), a total of 69,975 people had applied for, and obtained the e-passes. On May 13, 2,531 vehicles had come to the hill station with the e-pass and on May 14, until 10.30 a.m., 830 vehicles had checked-in after their e-pass was cleared at Silver Cascade, the entry point to the hill station, where the Municipality and Transport department staff have set up a check post.

For Wednesday, (May 15) 2,106 people have applied for e-pass and they have all been issued it, he said and added that the scanning too was done swiftly as and when the occupants displayed their e-pass on their mobile phones at the entry point.

A senior executive of a high-end hotel, however, said there were no cancellations. “There were inquiries from our guests about the likely choking of vehicular traffic due to checking of the e-pass et al, but things are proceeding smoothly now,” he said.

A section of hoteliers said the drop in arrival of tourists was also because of heavy rains in the plains in and around many southern districts and in places like Bengaluru.

Hoteliers expect a turnaround in the ensuing week as the Flower Show and Kodai Vizha is set to start from May 17 for 10 days. The Bryant Park is getting visitors, where the flower arrangements are underway and this would be the first spot for visitors, before they moved on to Green Valley View and other tourist destinations, they added.

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