Hotel, homestay's owner, and tour operator of Uttarakhand said they had suffered heavy losses due to the current Covid curbs and if these are not eased in the coming days, many establishments may be forced to close down.
The absence of foreigners has also dented the state’s wellness tourism industry. The yoga centers which are usually packed with tourists from abroad and outside the state are now deserted. Piyush Kumar, the owner of the Almora-based Dunagiri Retreat, said that he had a six-week event planned but now it has been shelved. “Almost half of our visitors are from outside the state, from Delhi and West Bengal, and because of the surge in cases, no one is willing to travel. We still have to pay Rs 1 lakh per month as upkeep costs. We have also sent our senior staff on leave without pay,” he said.
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Ajay Bhatt, owner of a homestay in Joshimath who also organizes treks to the Valley of flowers and other spots, said that for the last several weeks, he has not received a single email or query. Moreover, the opening date of Valley of Flowers getting deferred and Hemkund Sahib Yatra canceled has added to the uncertainty of tour operators like Bhatt.
The concerns were echoed by those in the tourism industry in places like Munsyari, Uttarkashi, Kausani, Khirsu, and Lansdowne. Devendra Singh, a hotelier from Munsiyari, said that of all the 50-60 hotels and homestays in the town, none have even a single booking for the next several days. “We organize treks to Nanda Devi as well as several other spots. Most of them are foreigners, but with most countries cautioning against travel to India, there are no tourists this year. We had suffered heavy losses last year too. It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to survive,” Singh said.
Jayendra Rana, president of Uttarkashi-based Garhwal Himalaya Mountaineering and Trekking Association, said that all their bookings have been canceled indefinitely. “The situation is worse than last year,” he said.
NEWS COURTESY: ET