The number of visitors to the Government Botanical Garden in Udhagamandalam was down by 78 % when compared with 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics from the Horticulture Department that maintains most parks and gardens in the Nilgiris revealed that the total number of visitors to the Garden stood at just 6.2 lakh, when compared with 28.11 lakh in 2019.
The statistic is important as the Tourism Department and the district administration use the figures as a barometer to estimate the number of visitors to the district.
According to officials from both the departments, the COVID-19 pandemic was the sole reason for the steep decrease in the number of visitors to the Garden in 2020. The Garden was closed to visitors between March and September. The number of visitors to the district prior to the pandemic between January and March constituted almost 73 % of the total number of visitors to the garden this year. Since the reopening of the district to tourists, only 1.63 lakh tourists visited in the last three months, the officials said.
“This shows that even after the district was reopened for tourism, people remain wary of travelling due to the pandemic and that has severely affected hotels, restaurants, homestays and other small businesses dependent on the tourism industry,” said a hotel owner from the Nilgiris.
Horticulture officials said despite this, they had witnessed a steady increase in the number of visitors to the parks and gardens across the district during the last few weeks of 2020. “We hope that this is a sign for things to come, and more people travel to the Nilgiris in 2021,” officials said.
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