Abhishek Rana talks about the problems of the hospitality industry in Himachal Pradesh
The hospitality industry in Himachal Pradesh has been severely affected due to the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions
The COVID 19 pandemic has adversely affected several businesses, and one of them is travel and tourism. Those who are into taxi service and hotel business have been severely affected because of the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown. Himachal Pradesh gets a substantial part of its revenue through tourism, but because of the lockdown, everything has come to a standstill.
Abhishek Rana, chairman of, social media department, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, articulates the anxieties faced by the hospitality industry providers in Himachal Pradesh. He looks at it from the perspective of the hospitality providers and tries to analyze what went wrong.
Abhishek Rana is the youngest politician from Himachal Pradesh. He currently serves as the chairman of, the social media department of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee. He is a lawyer and social activist. Abhishek Rana belongs to a family that is always devoted to the welfare of weaker sections of society. In the year 2000, they started an NGO named SARV KALYANKARI SANSTHA. A program named YUVA SAMPARK was started by Abhishek Rana under his NGO.
The hospitality industry in Himachal Pradesh has been severely affected due to the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions. The State Government indeed allowed unrestricted entry into the state from mid-September but the state has still not recovered from the financial shock, and the situation is not the same as before.
According to government data, as of December 31, 2019, the State had 3,679 registered hotels with a bed capacity of about 1,03,053. Besides, about 2,189 homestay units are having about 12,181 beds. In 2019, 1.72 crore tourists visited the State including 1.68 crore domestic visitors and 3.83 lakh foreigners. Now, with the advent of Corona, these numbers have reduced drastically.
The Covid cases in Himachal also doubled in November. The total infections increased by more than 75%. The state has reported nearly 36,000 cases including 572 deaths, and there are more than seven thousand active cases at present. The surge comes after a period of decline in active cases in October when daily recoveries had started exceeding the daily new infections.
According to the health officials, while Covid cases are not being reported among tourists, the unrestricted entry may have contributed to the increase in overall numbers. This is because of the lack of will on the part of the government to effectively enforce the pandemic rules.
The Lahaul Valley for example saw a spike in infections after it became a tourist hotspot. According to the medical officers there, many tourists there are seen without masks. Even though no tourists have been tested positive, they have contributed to the spike, because more cases have been reported from areas where tourist influx is high.
Now, here lies the paradox. A major chunk of Himachal’s economy relies on tourism. However, lifting of tourism restrictions has led to an increase in cases. I think the solution to this problem lies in the idea of responsible tourism, in which extra efforts are taken to ensure that the tourists follow Covid 19 protocol. But it needs to be seen if the government is serious about it or not.
The opposition as well as the people of Himachal Pradesh supported the government in its endeavour to fight Corona. They donated crores of money to the PM cares fund. However, they were betrayed by the government. The government not only did nothing to combat the pandemic but also broke all social distancing rules in its gatherings.