By S.T. Ravikumar
Mysore/Mysuru: An estimated 10 lakh people visit Mysuru every year during the 10-day State-sponsored Dasara extravaganza. However, this year, dark clouds of COVID-19 have cast over the celebrations.
With strict norms of social distancing here to stay at least till the pandemic is brought under complete control, stakeholders are wondering how to celebrate Nada Habba Dasara which is just five months away and where the success of celebrations solely depend on surging crowds to see the caparisoned elephants and tourist footfall at Dasara venues.
Mysuru’s tourism revenues, employment and employability too depend much on Dasara and with no activity, stakeholders stare at bleak future. The State Government, on the other hand, has decided to wait till the end of May to take a decision in this regard.
A lot of foreign tourists too flock Mysuru during pre-Dasara and continue their stay till December. This year, there is uncertainty over the arrival of foreign tourists due to large-scale deaths triggered by Coronavirus. COVID has already affected many international calendar events like Oktoberfest in Germany which has been cancelled for this year.
Also, there are doubts about cash-strapped and COVID-hit State Government releasing handsome funds for Dasara. It might ask for a scaled-down celebrations just to keep the tradition alive without allied events for entertainment and tourist attraction. Officials, however, are optimistic that the pandemic will be over by the time Dasara season kicks in.
The State Government had planned a grand Dasara-2020 and had chalked out schemes to launch Dasara publicity blitzkrieg in April this year, six months ahead of Dasara, to attract local, national and international tourists. Minister for Kannada, Culture and Tourism C.T. Ravi had conducted a meeting in Bengaluru where officials were told to carry out publicity campaigns six months in advance.
Advance publicity campaigns and the Government funding would give more time to officials to carry out Dasara development works instead of carrying them out in the last moment, the Minister had felt. But COVID has put cold water on the Minister’s grandiose plans.
Speaking to ‘Star of Mysore,’ Tourism Secretary Anil Kumar admitted that COVID has washed away the Government’s early Dasara planning. “We have not lost hope. We can still meet in June – usually the Dasara meetings start in September – and hopefully, by then, the pandemic will be in our control. We need to set some standard operating procedure in place when it comes to social distancing for major events like Dasara,” he said.
Anil Kumar said that meeting of Tourism Department is scheduled by the end of May to chalk out plans to revive the sector that has suffered major losses due to lack of international and domestic tourist movement. “We will discuss Dasara too then,” he added.