GUWAHATI: Restrictions imposed on tourists by the Meghalaya Government to visit the State in view of the COVID-19 pandemic has become a boon for the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Assam.
More than 2 lakh tourists have so far (till the first week of February, 2021) visited the Kaziranga National Park since it was reopened in October, 2020. The revenue collected during this period has crossed Rs 2 crore. If the present trend continues the park is expected to earn Rs 6 crore to Rs 7 crore by May this year.
"When the Kaziranga Park was reopened in October last year, the authorities were quite apprehensive about the tourists' flow. But the total number of tourists so far visited the park has surpassed the estimate of the park authorities.
A huge chunk of the tourists — who would have otherwise gone to Shillong — are visiting the park. Many tourists from West Bengal and the neighbouring States have visited Kaziranga for the second or third time (including the visit in 2020 or 2021)," said a source in the Tourism department.
Many tourists from other States are also visiting the Manas and Nameri national parks. The Pobitora wildlife sanctuary is also receiving tourists.
A Guwahati-based tour operator said, "I think the Meghalaya Government has gone overboard in imposing restrictions on tourists in the name of COVID-19 protocols. Many tourists, who wanted to visit Shillong by making a stopover in Kaziranga, are now visiting other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Assam."
On the other hand, the Kaziranga park authorities could successfully restrict rhino poaching with only two rhinos poached in the year 2020. Altogether 66 cases, including 17 rhino- related cases, have been booked during the year (2020) while 95 people have been arrested in 38 rhino and other wildlife crime related cases.
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