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Kaziranga National Park likely to collect "only" Rs 2 cr in 2020 as revenue hit by COVID: Director

Kaziranga National Park likely to collect "only" Rs 2 cr in 2020 as revenue hit by COVID: Director

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kAZIRANGA kAZIRANGA

Golaghat: The much-awaited elephant safaris resumed for tourists at the Kohora range of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Upper Assam on Sunday (November 1).

The world heritage site, which was closed for tourists since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic and floods, reopened on October 21 with the resumption of jeep safaris in two ranges - Kohora and Bagori.

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However, all is not roses in the park and the Kaziranga National Park authorities expect to incur losses in the crores this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has left rattled economies across the world.

Elephant safaris have resumed today at the KNP

P Sivakumar, the Director of the iconic park told Inside Northeast that the authorities are expecting a drastic drop in the number of tourists due to the ongoing pandemic. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

How did tourism at the Kaziranga National Park get affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Like everywhere else, tourism in Kaziranga National Park also got affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The long period of closure of the park, which is quite unprecedented, has, of course, impacted us in a big way and the park this year had to be closed down for a longer period due to COVID-19 related concerns.

We all know that there are severe restrictions on international travel owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Are the foreign tourists coming back?

Ever since the park reopened for visitors on October 21, the bulk of tourists have been from Assam or from the other Northeast Indian states. People from other regions of India have also largely stayed away. he number of foreign tourists is close to nil,and we have also not received any bookings.

How has the revenue of the Kaziranga National Park been hit? Will the collections take a hit this year due to the COVID?

On any given year, around Rs. 4.5 crore to Rs. 7 crore is added to the coffers of the KNP due to the influx of tourists. In the last two years, our collections were hit by the raging protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and other agitations. Yet, we still managed to collect around Rs. 5 crore. This year, we are estimating collections of around Rs. 2 crore as there will be a significant drop in revenue due to the lockdown.

How has the response been so far? Are the COVID-19 regulations being followed?

Since reopening on October 21, the response has been quite frankly, phenomenal. Local tourists are having a ball. Things should get back to normal revenue-wise in the latter part of November. We were expecting to have around 25 jeep safaris per day when we reopened, but we are now conducting around 200 safaris on the weekends. On weekdays also, we are conducting a robust 45-50 safaris. With the re-introduction of elephant safaris, we are optimistic that things will get better. As far as the COVID-19 guidelines are concerned, all the rules are being followed and we are adhering to the national directives.

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