Shimla, March 25
Rising number of cases in the state and emergence of the UK stain among Punjab cases of Corona infection, have once again cast a dark shadow on the tourism industry of Himachal Pradesh. For the second year in a row and the third time in 4 years, tourism industry of the state is standing on the verge of uncertainty.
” Most part of tourists coming to Shimla are weekend visitors from Punjab and neighboring states, stated Raghav Gupta a travel trade professional. Adding ,”I think it is time for Shimla to start asking for a latest COVID negative report from the visitors or else results could be serious.”
“Though we are taking all precautions like sanitization of rooms, usage of masks, etc as advised under the SOPs, but admittedly most visitors these days are from Punjab and neighboring areas, informed a local hotelier Lalit Sood. He said that now again in the month of March the state is confronting a position of a fix. Again cases have started rising and with Punjab (from where most visit Shimla) reporting UK stain in 81% cases of corona infection, threat of business loss has started looming large on us,” he rued. In off-season Shimla banks upon weekend tourist from Punjab and areas, and if travel is made difficult or stopped for them then, business will suffer in all eventuality.
“For a state like Himachal Pradesh the prime hospitality business period is April to June. This is when heat increases in the plains and people take shelter in the cool of the hills. “Infact realistically evaluating, this is the only season of the year, which provides real sustainability to the hospitality business of the state, explained Atul Gautam, another hotelier of Shimla. During these months the state receives visitors from all over the country including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal along with others. And these are the visitors who spend average 7-10 days in the state, whereby they also visit multiple locations and thus contribute higher towards the hospitality economy of the state, he stated.
“But, now with increase in COVID cases again before April, these visitors are sure to get de-motivated. “The same reflects from our booking register also,” he added. As there are hardly any queries or bookings for these season months yet.
He added that if based on the need of the hour more restrictions are applied for visitors, then eventually things can get even more difficult for the trade.
Pertinent to mention here, that many hotels were forced to shut down last year. Even lot of cab operators had to sell their vehicles, due to not being able to pay timely installments. In lack of business, even trade workers lost their permanent jobs. Most who had leased hotels were forced to quit properties and are still struggling to get back into the trade.
“If the similar situation like last year arises again, then most would go out of business this time, warned Atul. Not only even the ancillary business of state is bound to suffer due to it, he added.
However on the other hand, with COVID infection numbers again rising since the past 7 days now, the State government has imposed certain restrictions likely to be strengthened if condition does not improve in coming days.