Kodagu Connect Exclusive
MADIKERI: It is almost two months since the flood disaster struck Kodagu. While the rehabilitation process for flood-affected people is on, there is a growing concern among travel and tourism industry stakeholders about a huge drop in tourists visiting Kodagu after the tragedy in August.
Most residents who do not depend on tourism are vociferously stating this is the right time to reduce tourism pressure on the district and take corrective measures to avoid further tragedies in the future. The tourism industry folks are leaving no stone unturned in their campaigning efforts to convince the world that all is well in Kodagu and it is a safe place to visit.
Kodagu Connect collected opinion of a cross-section of people from Kodagu and this is what they had to say.
Puttichanda Don Devaiah says, “Kodagu should not be pushed into big time tourism which is very dangerous for the future of the district. I feel Kodagu should be developed into an agriculture and ecology economy with mild ecotourism and a vision of not destroying the nature.”
“I would love to see big time tourism but not in the form of resorts and hotels, but in the terms of real homestays where guests learn about the lifestyle and culture of locals. We need to stop entertaining ‘slave tourism’ wherein we sacrifice our respect to pander to the likes of tourists,” says Kudupaje Rajesh Gowda.
Shami Mandanna says, “Even before the landslides and floods in August, we could see tourism was hurting Kodagu in terms of traffic, plastic pollution, mushrooming of unregistered homestays. The flood tragedy was a warning from nature and drastic measures have to be taken in order to reduce number of tourists visiting the district.”
“Flood-affected people in Kodagu need to rebuild their lives and therefore inviting tourists in large numbers will definitely put pressure on our already fragile ecosystem,” she adds.
Siraj Kuvalera says, “It is sad to know that some of the homestays and resorts are indulging in disaster tourism to make a quick buck. Frankly, majority of people in Kodagu do not depend on tourism for their livelihood. We, the jamma residents of Kodagu, should not sell our land to outsiders who then go about building homestays and resorts with an intention of minting money only.”
“As long as plastic and all other forms of environmental pollutants and damages cannot be effectively controlled, tourism should be strictly restricted. How to do that without turning it into another form of corruption is the problem. Also, the residents of Kodagu need to take a more proactive role in protecting the district keeping aside their differences and biases. Only then can this beautiful place can be preserved for our future generations,” says Joe Thomas.
Purnaprajna says, “Tourism is part and parcel of any scenic place; however, regulation should be implemented. These regulations can’t be imposed on tourists but should be implemented at touchpoints like homestays, resorts, sightseeing places, etc.”
“Two things make Kodagu a hot tourist destination: proximity to big cities like Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mangaluru and culture which is misunderstood as party culture involving pandi curry (popular pork dish) and alcohol. This wrong branding of Kodagu being a party destination has to be changed,” he adds.
B C Bopanna says, “Kodagu is not ready for tourism yet. Opening the district now for tourists will dilute the efforts of district administration in rehabilitation of affected people by stating everything has returned to normalcy. Moreover, un-restricted tourism generates revenue only for some handful of individuals who are in the business and not for the district administration who can spend it on Kodagu’s welfare.”
(Many homestay and resort owners did not respond to questions sent by Kodagu Connect)