The Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) will open for tourists from October 1, stated a press note issued by the reserve on Monday. Meanwhile, the Forest Department is planning to open all wildlife parks for tourists from October 1, subject to local residents and administration allowing it.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Nitin Kakodkar told The Indian Express, “The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has already given approval. So, we will allow national parks and sanctuaries to open from October 1. But it will be subject to clearance by local administration and people. If they have any problems regarding management of Covid-19 in the area, they may not allow it.”
However, fewer tourists would be permitted per vehicle. “We will allow only four tourists per vehicle instead of six,” Kakodkar said.
The press note said children below 10 years of age, persons above 65 years and pregnant women won’t be allowed in TATR. Physical distancing, sanitising and masks would be compulsory, it added.
Kakodkar added, “We had already opened the buffer areas for tourists but the response was poor. So, we are not sure if tourism in core will be any better.”
He said that Pench and Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserves have decided to open later than October 1 since the condition of roads inside the reserves is still not conducive for traffic due to recent heavy rains.
The tiger reserves and other tourism areas have lost substantial revenue because of the lockdown during the peak summer months of March, April, May and June. Tourism is, in any case, closed every year from July to September. “The biggest loss was in TATR. It could be as much as Rs 3 crore. But we have budgeted for the areas as per the needs,” Kakodkar said.
A senior official from TATR said, “TATR tourism supports livelihoods of hundreds of locals, which include Gypsy operators, guides, home-stay operators, hoteliers and their staffers. They are waiting for tourism to resume.”
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