Uttarakhand’s economy has been hit hard due to the severe impact of Covid pandemic on its tourism, transport.
Uttarakhand’s tourism industry went into a spiral and crowds of transients got back as Covid cast its shadow on the country and hit the state’s economy hard in 2020. Tourism being the key driver for Uttarakhand economy, it was really tough for the state’s tourism industry stakeholders.
Though the state has made a gradual exit from the Covid-19 lockdown, but the travelers are yet to return in incredible numbers. The transients, who had left for work to the urban areas, did. The Covid positive numbers in Uttarakhand remained moderately little for certain months with a couple of mountain areas not detailing a solitary case, presently demonstrating a surge in cases. Many of the locals are accusing the migrants for this surge in positive cases.
Many hotels in Rishikesh were changed over into isolation centres. The Chardham Yatra, Uttarakhand’s greatest earning spinner from tourism, couldn’t begin on schedule and the business of thousands related to the sector was hit hard.
The renowned Himalayan temples were opened as late as July 2020 against the wishes of the priests, who feared a spread of the contamination.
There was a day limit on the number of pilgrims visiting famous temples like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri – famously known as the ‘char dhams’. Guests were advised to deliver a negative Covid test report on appearance.
The tourist footfall during the yatra season in 2020 was just around three lakh, less than a tenth of 2018’s turnout.
The yearly Kanwar Yatra in Haridwar was dropped due to the pandemic. So were the blessed showers on the banks of the Ganga on events like Somvati Amavasya.
As per the most recent information, the Covid-19 numbers in the state have grown to more than 89,000 with the death tally approaching 1,500. The seven-month time frame, March to September 2020 when the hotels stayed shut, caused immense misfortunes. The impact of lockdown needs at leaset a year to recover, said a hotelier in Rishikesh.
The year 2020 can be recognized as a year that brought a monetary emergency to Uttarakhand. Bus operators in the Himalayan state have endured misfortunes adding up to Rs 25 crore. The bus aggregators have claimed that they didn’t get any assistance from the public authority.
Rishikesh, which is a rafting hotspot registered a lull in visitors. According to a rafting resort owner in Rishikesh, the severe impact of the Covid pandemic that the businesses witnessed in 2020 can not be forgotten. The tourism industry and adventure sports sector have been the most affected segments and both of these bring a hefty amount of revenue for the state government every year.
According to the representative of the Hotel and Resort Traders Association, Ramnagar (Nainital), the hotels needed to cut on their staff as the public authority offered no financial alleviation.
Now, as Uttarakhand prepares for Haridwar Kumbh in January 2021, the public authority is thinking about alternatives like imposing a daily limit on the number of pilgrims. In that case, it will be a first for any Kumbh anywhere in India.
However, with the gradual resumption of economic activities, the state is slowly witnessing the revival of its tourism industry. However, the recovery to the pre-Covid level is a faraway story as of now.
Uttarakhand Tourism and Culture Minister Satpal Maharaj have already written a letter to Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel seeking the introduction of a Covid tourist insurance policy, which would help in reducing the fear of the pandemic among the foreign tourists and attract them to visit India assuring them safety.
The Uttarakhand government is also aiming to resurrect the state’s tourism industry via ancient temples. Religious tourism fetches a huge sum of taxes for the state government every year and the government hopes that focusing on the sector will help in resurrecting the industry that has been hammered heavily by the Covid-19 pandemic. The state is aiming to establish temple-circuits across the Devabhumi.
The Uttarakhand government has already identified a couple of temples across the state that will fall under the ambit of this developmental initiative. These temples include Patal Bhumi, Baijnath, Bagnath, Bhimeshwar, and Shiv Kapileshwar among the 24 Shiva temples that will be integrated into the project.
A few Vishnu temples too will be added in a Vishnu temple-circuit. The government has already identified these temples. Apart from that, some Buddhist temples, Sikh shrines, and siddh peeths too have been identified.
State tourism minister Satpal Maharaj is also striking up dialogues with Bollywood filmmakers in order to boost the tourism industry in the state. The government is mulling the possibility of proposing the filmmakers to make their films and projects around the state’s ‘famous personalities’ and ‘ethnic tribes.
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