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It is celebration time during Dasara for hotel industry

Special Correspondent

Rooms in major hotels have been booked one year in advance for the festivities

MYSORE: The hotel industry in Mysore is anticipating a high turnout for the Dasara celebrations. Major players in the hospitality industry here have declared a "sold out" during the festival period from October 4 to 13.

Star hotels in the city catering to corporates and foreign tourists were booked one year in advance for Dasara festivities, thanks to publicity and group bookings conducted by travel agents.

Perception

There is a growing perception that the hotel accommodation available in the city is inadequate to cope with the unprecedented rush of tourists for the 10-day cultural extravaganza.

Lalitha Mahal Palace had inquiries from European countries soon after the celebrations concluded last year, and suites and rooms were booked for this year's event soon after. "Dasara is a big event that tourists look forward to, and our regular corporate clients time their visit to Mysore to coincide with the festival season. It is house full for the 10 days of the celebrations," Rahul Saxena, front office manager at the Lalitha Mahal Palace, said.

The scenario is no different at other luxury and upmarket hotels preferred by international tourists. "The occupany rate is almost 100 per cent during the festival season, and we have spared a few rooms for our regular corporate clients between October 4 and 13," Gautam Banerjee of Kings Kourt Hotel said.

This is a trend that has caught on in the past few years after the hospitality industry in Mysore registered all-time low business in 2000 when Kannada thespian Rajkumar was abducted by forest brigand Veerappan.

Setback

The industry faced a setback in 2002 when celebrations were curtailed because of drought and the abduction of former Minister H. Nagappa by the brigand.

The growing popularity of Mysore among foreign tourists and the city's charm as a one-stop destination for indulging interests have sustained the flow of tourists.

Leading hotels are booked during Dasara. Suma Roy, associate manager, Southern Star, said the hotel expects to register 100 per cent occupancy rate during the festival.

Anticipation

The festival organisers expect 50 per cent increase in the number of tourists visiting Mysore during the festival. More than 18 lakh people witnessed the festivities last year. According to the Subcommittee on Tourism for Mysore Dasara 2005, 16.17 lakh tourists visited Mysore in 2001, 14.19 lakhs in 2001 and 16.48 lakhs in 2003.

However, the city may not be able to provide accommodation to all tourists. Vivek Vinodh, general manager of Hotel Ramanashree, said: "There is a need for capacity building if Mysore is to live up to expectations."

The Tourism Department has launched its home-stay concept. A directory of home-stay facilities will be released next week.

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