Droughts Drain ‘Venice of the East’

The tourism industry of one of India’s most popular destinations is drying up, as the city of Udaipur runs out of water. The number of visitors to the city in northwestern India has reportedly plunged by about 30 percent as below-average rains and water withdrawal drain the region’s famous lakes.

This is a severe blow to the tourism industry and its accompanying businesses in the city, where about 40 percent of the 2.5-million population relies on water-related tourism for their income.

Udaipur’s five lakes attract hundreds of thousands of vacationers each year, who look to immerse themselves into the city’s romantic atmosphere — which is often thought of as a ”Venice of the East.”

Lake Palace, a luxury hotel resting amid Lake Pichola, used to welcome its guests on a whole a fleet of boats. Today, as water levels drop, a loan vessel ferries visitors to the hotel along a narrow canal. Jeeps now transport guests to Jag Mandir, another island palace on Pichola, across the dry lake bed.

“It has a huge impact on tourism, especially the hotel industry. We have slashed prices but are still unable to increase tourist footfall,” said Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, whose family owns and runs Jag Mandir, Shiv Niwas and Fateh Prakash hotels. “The situation is the same across the board. After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and recession, the drying up of lakes is weighing heavy on the industry.”

While water levels in Udaipur normally fall before the monsoon season -– which usually starts in June and July — the weather has been unusually dry in the last two years.

As the state government is digging up a tunnel to transport water to the lake — a project due to be completed in December –- the local businesses will be hoping for monsoons to replenish the lakes and their pocketbooks.

Read more here and here.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

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