Visitors were restricted to spend only one hour in the government botanical garden, which was one among the six parks opened by the horticulture department, in Ooty.
Tourist spots in the Nilgiris had remained closed since March 17 even ahead of the lockdown curbs. Tourists entering the garden were thermal scanned and circles drawn in the counter to maintain social distancing.
District Collector J Innocent Divya, who monitored the arrangements at the garden, said that the tourists will be allowed to spend only one hour from the time of purchase of the ticket and additional charges will be collected if they spend more time.
“Only 200 persons will be allowed into the garden at one time. Also e-pass to tourists from other districts would be issued only to 50 persons registering on a first come basis. Awareness boards have been kept in the garden asking the public to maintain social distancing and violators will be penalised,” she said.
Following the reopening of tourist spots, shops and eateries nearby the Ooty garden resumed sales.
“The announcement of reopening Dindigul’s border for tourism came as a big relief for stakeholders relying on the tourism industry, however, the flow of tourists was not much on expected lines,” according to A Ramesh, president, Kodaikanal Taxi Drivers Association.
Only a few, who could be from parts of Dindigul district and neighbouring Theni, turned up with their own vehicles. With a fleet of 694 taxis, not even ten per cent of vehicles plied on roads. “As many are still not aware of the mandatory requirement of travel e-pass for accessing Kodaikanal, it has restricted the flow,” he said. “Except for a few spots including, bryant park, rose garden and chettiar park, other natural major attractions such as pillar rocks, coakers walk’, Guna caves, Moir point, pine forest and suicide point remained unopened. Only when these spots are opened, normal flow of tourists could be expected. Also,taxi drivers have requested Kodaikanal Sub Collector Sivaguru Prabakaran to reopen these spots at the earliest and also to relax the e-pass system,” Ramesh added.
S Abdul Kani Raja, secretary, Kodaikanal Hotel and Resort Owners Association, said, “Despite possession of e-pass, some of them were asked to return after checking at the toll gate at the Kodaikanal entrance, citing lack of mention of accommodation sites. Such restrictions should be eased.”