Even as the Omicron threat looms, tourists rush to Himachal in hordes to celebrate Christmas and New Years while tossing all pandemic standards to the wind.
Most of the hotels in the major tourist cities are jam-packed with increasing footfall in neighboring Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.
What makes the situation even more serious is that the state government has yet to order any restrictions given the rally in Mandi of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 27 to mark Jai Ram’s four-year tenure. Thakur. More than one lakh are expected to attend the rally, which could also spark another surge.
“Tourists are flocking to Shimla and other resorts. As of yet, no reservations have been canceled as the state has yet to report the Omicron variant. The influx is huge because there has been a forecast of snowfall for Christmas in the state, ”said Rajender Singh, a hotelier who has units in Shimla, Manali and Kasauli.
“We are adhering to the Covid-19 protocol in our hotels and we expect good deals in the days to come,” he said, admitting that fear of a new variant persists but residents of the State have also been fully vaccinated, which reduces the risk of infection.
Meanwhile, tourists say they expected a lot of fun as snowfall would likely occur on holidays despite the virus threat. While some said they would follow the standards, others were of the opinion that they were now fed up with the theory and wanted to take full advantage of it.
“We are very excited because there is a forecast for snowfall. Yes, there are concerns about the Omicron variant, but we have taken both doses of vaccination and will strictly follow all standards set by the government, ”said Vanshika Tiwari, a tourist from Maharashtra.
Priyam, a tourist from Nagpur, said he was happy to be in Shimla to enjoy Christmas and New Years. Part of a group of travelers, Priyam said people were fed up with the theory of Covid-19 and that several of them have stopped adhering to the standards.
Those who rely solely on tourism say it’s time to make some extra money.
“We no longer fear the pandemic. We have already suffered a lot and this time around we hope to cover our losses of the past two years, ”said Maqsood, who works as a porter.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said instructions have been given to authorities to implement the Covid-19 protocol in the state. He said the state had fully vaccinated the state’s 100% readable population and that would help prevent the spread.
Himachal Pradesh’s tourism industry is worth ??12,000 crore and contributes 7% to SGDP in addition to creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Before Covid-19, nearly 2 million tourists visited Himachal.
Covid-19 dealt a heavy blow to the tourism industry in 2020 as the number of visitors fell to 32 lakh. According to data available from the tourism department, there were approximately 6,000 registered hotels, host families and guesthouses in the state. In 2019, more than 1.72 crore of tourists, including 38.28.76 foreigners, visited the state.