Coronavirus outbreak: A big jolt for Madurai’s tourism and hotel room occupancy! A press statement issued by Tamil Nadu’s iconic Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple has appealed to pilgrims with COVID-19 symptoms to avoid visiting the shrine, the Hindu had reported. In case any pilgrim is noticed with these symptoms, the temple authorities will provide a mask and advise them to visit a nearby medical facility. This sacred shrine is Madurai city’s most crowded and most visited tourist destination, drawing hundreds and thousands of pilgrims on a daily basis.
Given the increasing number of travel bans that are prevailing worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a sharp drop in Madura city’s tourist arrivals and in terms of occupancy of hotel rooms in the city. This has now impacted travel agencies and hoteliers in the temple town, which is otherwise usually filled with pilgrims coming to visit Tamil Nadu’s iconic Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.
Typically, the peak tourist months in Madurai are during the months when the schools shut for summer break. Most tourists and families plan their trip to Madurai accordingly. However, now there is considerable uncertainty regarding tourists, domestic and international, as everyone considers traveling to be a high-risk situation right now. Nearby states including Kerala and Karnataka have been severely impacted by the inbound tourist arrivals in their respective states.
For hotels in a small city like Madurai, the sharp drop in the number of tourists to the city is a major setback.
In other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala, major shrines that draw in hundreds and thousands of pilgrims on a daily basis are coming out with similar appeals to pilgrims to avoid visiting in case they have any COVID-19 symptoms. To minimize person to person contact, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam has introduced time token slots and done away with the system of waiting in its compartments. The iconic Guruvayur temple in Kerala has also appealed to devotees to keep away in case they have any symptoms and cautioned that pilgrims arriving at the temple for special offerings such as ‘Choronnu’ or weddings should reduce the number of guests that they bring with them.
Notably, across all states, popular temple towns are exercising considerable caution and appealing to pilgrims to stay alert and avoid visiting for darshan in case they have COVID-19 symptoms.