Tourism takes a beating in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand

Tourism takes a beating in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand


Tourists who may probably have enjoyed the scenic beauty of Uttarakhand are now turning their back on the state following the devastation caused by the floods.

Hoteliers are complaining near 100 per cent cancellation of advance bookings, a sign that the tragedy that hit the hill state may have long-term impact on its tourism-dependent economy.

“Tourism, the mainstay of the hill economy has been hit to the core. The tragedy in Uttarakhand has impacted the psyche of tourists, we are not expecting things to recover anywhere in near future,” Prayag Pathak, Reservation Manager of Welcome Park Hotel in Nainital, said.

The three-star hotel, which has 100 per cent occupancy in the peak season of May and June, complaints of receiving just 20-30 per cent tourists.

Another hotelier in Kumaon said the deluge that has left a trail of devastation has discouraged foreigners from visiting the scenic hills. There are signs that foreign tourists have had a huge change of plans after the disaster.

“Looking at what has been going on. I will say probably in the next two or three years, we are not even thinking of going to hill stations,” a student from Iran, who came on a vacation but could not go outside of Delhi, said.

The student said he had to cancel a trip to Ranikhet with his friends following the floods. Hoteliers fear the extensive media coverage of the disaster is unlikely to encourage tourists to return to the state any time soon.

Sanjeev Sundarial of a tourist resort in Kausani feared that things could not look up even by the next window for tourism in September-October.

He said the Char Dham yatra (visits to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath), a major source of economic activities in the region, will suffer a great deal due to the devastation.

The state government recently set up a separate authority for the development of Char Dhams and other shrines in the State.

Sundarial said the Kumaon region, 300-400 km from Garhwal, was not getting any traffic due to fears amongst tourists that they might be stranded on the way.

“Business tourism may be restored in the months ahead, but leisure tourism has no chance,” he said. Travel companies, after the state government’s advisory against travel to the state, said they were now advising tourists to explore other destinations as reconstruction in Uttarakhand may take more than a year.

Tourism is the mainstay for the people of Uttarakhand, especially those living near the lake district of Nainital, Alaknanda valley and Mussoorie. The state has a total population of one crore and receives more than 2.5 crore tourists every year.

With tourist footfall unlikely, hoteliers admitted that they are exploring alternative businesses.