India’s wildlife tourism went into a standstill following the Coronavirus infection of a tiger in a zoo in the US. The news forced the Union environment ministry to issue a warrant of shutting down all national parks, tiger reserves, and other protected areas. This lockdown in wildlife tourism started in the first week of April and continues in some national parks.

The Gir National Park is also not an exception in this regard, and as a result, the Gir national park safari is also suspended. The complete lockdown has deprived the livelihoods in tourism and has harmed many villagers who live mainly off forest produce.

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Effects on the industry

The six-month-long lockdown has put nearly about 40% of the companies dealing with travel and tourism at the risk of total shutdown. Reports also show that almost 81% of the tourism companies are out of revenue up to 100%. The hospitality industry and the hotels near the Gir forest are also suffering from this nationwide lockdown’s disastrous effect. 

Occupancy in India is already low, and as a result, the hotels near the national park have either shut down or are running minimally. Moreover, the staff are either laid off or going through a salary cut, as liquidity is a problem.

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The Current News

Wildlife tourism around the Gir National Park’s protected areas was hit hard for a long time, until lately; the news of opening the park was heard. The closed areas as a part of lockdown snatched the livelihood of thousands, driving them to utter poverty.

Recent news is heard that the Gir National Park is all set to open after a lockdown on 15th October. The Devalia Safari Park will, however, open on 1st October, and the visitors can avail of the Gir lion safari from 15th October. The online booking portals are expected to re-open from 14th October. However, the Forest Department will be issuing a new set of rules in Gir lion safari booking and visiting the park.

The Expected Revival

The news of the Gir National Park re-opening has sowed a ray of hope amidst everyone associated with the wildlife industry there. It is undoubtedly a pleasure for the hotel industry, the safari drivers, and guides, and most importantly, the people surviving upon the forest produce. However, the quarantine wards set up for the lions and other creatures will sustain their presence as a protection measure.

All disastrous impacts on the tourism and hospitality industry are expected to come to an end due to this decision of re-opening the park.