THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Misfortunes never come alone, they say. Over at the Kerala Tourism Department, officials would shake their head in agreement readily to this age-old saying.
The tourism sector, which was limping back to normalcy after the controversial murder of a Latvian national in Thiruvananthapuram and Nipah scare in the northern districts, was looking forward to the blooming of Neelakurinji in Munnar hills — that happens once in 12 years — and ‘IPL-model regatta’ to be organised in the backwaters of Kerala to revive its fortunes.
But when the skies opened up, it poured, severely affecting the department’s monsoon plans.
Tourism director P Balakiran said the department had to postpone the first of round of the Kerala Boat Race League modelled on IPL following the heavy rain and the destruction caused by the opening of reservoir shutters. The first round was scheduled to begin on Saturday with the qualifying round of Nehru Trophy Boat race in Alappuzha.
The water level in the water bodies still dangerously high, the department now will have to postpone other league races scheduled to be held in August. The department had planned an elaborate campaign to attract domestic and foreign tourists. “Luckily the department has not spent much ahead of the regatta; otherwise the department would have faced a huge loss,” he said.
When the rain unleashed its fury, the department had to turn its focus to rehabilitation, especially when reports of tourists being stranded in regions like Idukki came out.
Now, the department will have to wait till the flood water recedes to resume its tourism activities, Balakiran added.
The extended precipitation in Idukki has taken a toll on the blooming of Neelakurinji in Munnar, which was scheduled to happen by July 15. If the rain persists even after budding, there is a chance for buds to be damaged in the rain, said Forest officers.
The Neelakurinji season was expected to fetch the local economy at least `300-400 crore.
The Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission, under the department, has been moving ahead with the ‘Naatinpurangalil Onam unnaam, Onasammanangal vaangaam’ (Let’s feast and receive gifts in this Onam at countryside villages) this Onam.
The project envisages a delicious Onam feast for tourists in the picaresque country side villages and tour package exploring the village life and a host of Onam gifts from villages. Now, the department is planning exclude the flood-hit areas from the project considering the safety of tourists, said officials.
Earlier, Nipah virus scare had driven away a considerable number of tourists from the state.