Express News Service
KALPETTA: The campaigns are back. Amid all the gloom perpetuated by crippling floods and nasty landslides, Wayanad is busy putting together its tourism pieces. With all major sightseeing destinations except Kanthanpara waterfalls reopened over the past couple of weeks, the beautiful locales of the hilly district are warming up to the footsteps of tourists again.
For good measure, a ‘Gratitude Rally’ to neighbouring states is scheduled to be flagged off from the Pookode Lake on Friday. Aimed at spreading the message of normalcy returning to Wayanad, the three-day bike rally is being conducted by the District Tourism Promotion Council as per a government directive to help the sector recover from the monsoon havoc.
“The rally is being conducted as part of the second phase of the recovery process after major tourist destinations were reopened,” said DTPC secretary B Anand. “The bikers are all part of various clubs in Wayanad. They will be accompanied by a few officers from the Tourism Department. The rally will cover Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as a large number of tourists from these two states visit Wayanad. The department has arranged two official receptions at Mysore and Coimbatore.”
In a positive development, around 600 people — including kids — visited Edakkal caves last weekend after the tourist spot on the Ambukuthi hills was reopened on September 15 after an interval of 23 days. The entry to the first cave remains restricted with a big rock having fallen in front of the cave, the authorities said. It will be reopened only after a detailed study by experts. The Pookode Lake was the first destination to be reopened, on September 1, after the deluge.
Having been earning an average annual revenue ranging between `7 crore and `8 crore, Wayanad Tourism has lost out on a revenue of `2 crore while suffering infrastructure damage of `2.04 crore due to the rain fury. With Tourism Department officers on their toes charting out programmes and campaigns to attract tourists after a lull, the sector is expected to be back on track fully by October.
The bike rally’s title serves as an expression of gratitude of the people of Wayanad for the support and selfless service offered by the neighbouring states, especially those from Mysore and Coimbatore.
Wayanad DTPC secretary B Anand said, “The bikers will be interacting with people in all major destinations on their way to Mysore, Coimbatore and Ooty. These interactions will be arranged by various tour operators in those areas. We hope this rally will spread the message that Wayanad is all set to welcome and embrace tourists,” Anand said. The Tourism Department is also holding talks with various organisations to facilitate the arrival of tourists. As part of this, Anand said, a group of 500 visitors from Mysuru had come for a three-day visit.
“We expect more such groups to visit our destinations,” he said. The Kanthanpara waterfalls too is expected to be reopened in October. “Roads connecting the destination were washed away. The restoration work is progressing and all issues will be resolved within 10 days,” the officer said.