The fear of COVID is so high that at least people won’t risk lives in leisure travels, but how are the people who used to curate travel and tourism dealing with it?
“No leisure travels, no one to buy our craft and no one to see the beauty of this place (Kasol). From the last six months, the place has literally been a place with no real people interested in this place. The only people we see here are the locals who anyways know everything about this place and pay no real attention to what craft we make” tells the owner of a local craftsmen shop in Kasol.
Kasol is one of the most beautiful and most visited places in India and with no surprise, COVID has affected tourism there like any other place. Pavan, Area manager of Kasol’s branch of Whoopers Hostel (A COD themed hostel) said that “earlier, this wasn’t the case obviously. Now, neither do we want people to travel, not do we want our staff and people curating travel to suffer. It has been a spell of helplessness. Past six months were difficult and so will be the next six.”
Pawan tells us that “our target, our customers are not the locals, it is the tourists, who often get excited seeing the uniqueness of this place, especially the foreign tourists. Now, we don’t expect a lot of people here. It has been a week when the travel routes have started to open completely for Kasol but that is not effective honestly. The fear of COVID is high, the irritation of getting through the formalities for safe travels is a tool on the head and by any change, a person happens to fall ill, they will be bound to stay here itself, even if it turns out to be COVID + or not. All of this is most certainly leaving us hopeless.”
While this is about Kasol, it won’t be wrong to say that most of the people in tourist spots of the country are dealing with the same problem.
The COO of Travel Aim, Rahul Shukla tells us that, “Soon after the lockdown was announced, many travellers had called off their trips and had asked for cancellation of any prior bookings and the business came to a halt. So, I had to call up the airlines asking for a refund on the bookings but the refunds have still not been processed yet. While this remains to be one issue, I could hardly find out other means of earning and barely surviving on the savings for the last six months.”
Even though the unlock process is on its way, the flights are still operating on a repatriation basis. They still have to face a lot of issues, as there are still confusions about the guidelines and the airline staff seem to be confused themselves about their operations. With no doubt, there are nowhere any leisure travels which used to keep the business in flow.
“If I talk about myself, I have never seen this low in this business. We don’t want people to travel in a pandemic, which is a rational thing. But barely working on savings, and due payments and reimbursements that are not made till now by other people is worrying because the whole cycle has been disturbed. I had corporate clients, I used to arrange for bulk travels, no such thing can be done now.” Rahul added.
While Pawan tells us that he is “hoping that things should get back to normal as they were before, by November because that is when the peak time for travelling, especially when it comes to Kasol and Himachal. We missed the business in February – August season, now, expecting things to get back on track but obviously, not at the risk of people’s lives. It is just uncertainty that is piling up”
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