Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 25 (IANS) The national tourism day is generally celebrated in a grand manner in Kerala as the state which is named as ” God’s Own Country” , has been pitching itself as a major tourist destination.
However the tragic death of an adventure tourist while holidaying at a rain forest resort at Meppadi in Wayanad, has spoilt the tourism day celebrations. Shahana Kallarapurayil, 26, was trampled to death by a wild elephant at a makeshift tent on Saturday night.
The resort, which did not have the necessary permit to conduct adventure tourism, was ordered to be shut down by Wayanad district collector Adeela Abdulla.
The big question arising is: Is the department conducting due diligence before granting permission to operate tourist resorts in the natural habitat of wild elephants. The resort where the tragedy struck was located in a landslide-prone area as well.
Meppadi Grama panchayath president Omana Ramesh, while speaking to mediapersons, said: “We have just assumed office after the local body elections and on primary investigation we found that this resort doesn’t have a licence issued by the gram panchayat. The district collector has already ordered closure of this resort.”
The government has issued guidelines for resorts to conduct adventure tourism and for outdoor tents and conducting trekking within the dense forests.
State minister for tourism , Kadakampally Surendran while speaking to mediapersons, said, “The government has already issued guidelines regarding the installation of tents in dense forests and promoting adventure tourism. The government has been promoting all areas of tourism but those who own such resorts have to be more careful and take all necessary precautions and procure all the required licences.”
While Kerala tourism is also promoting mud tourism, rain tourism and medical tourism, the euphoria on the national tourism day is not there following the mishap which could have been averted if more caution would have taken regarding these tourist spots.
Sebastian Vetturparyil ,a tourist resort owner at Idukki, told IANS. “The tourist resort owners have been hard-pressed following Covid and lockdowns and once the situation was looking up, this incident will definitely hit our fortunes. The resort owners should have been more alert while organising such camps in the elephant paths. This has affected the entire industry and the message going out is not good.”