Usually, at this time of the year Manoj Kothiyal does not have time to breathe. May, June and July are the busiest months for Kothiyal, a steward with a Mussoorie hotel.
This year, even after the flash floods ripped apart Uttarakhand last month, Kothiyal, hoped the steady stream of guests would sustain him mentally and financially.
He was wrong. “Guests are not showing up at all. Tips alone would help me earn Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 a month. Now, I’m just praying I get my salary,” says Kothiyal.
The recent tragedy has practically maimed the tourist industry.
According to Sandeep Sahney, official spokesperson of the hotel association of Uttarakhand, “There have been 80-85% cancellations across Uttarakhand including places like Mussoorie, Corbett, Nainital. Hotel owners are worried about payouts to their staff because money isn’t coming in at all.”
The bigger worry feels Sahney, who is also a member of the tourism development board of Uttarakhand, is how locals, who are involved in the tourism industry, will sustain themselves.
The Mussoorie toursim office, which is yet to compile the number of tourists for June, is not hoping to clock a decent tourist headcount.
“The number of Indian tourists in April this year was 1,73,126 and for May 2,64,341. Compare that with 22,10,098 tourists for 2013, and you know how dismal the picture looks,” says an official from the tourism office.
“At this time of the year, it is difficult to find taxis. This year out of 600 taxis, barely three to four are plying in a day,” says Pradeep Rawat, secretary of the local taxi union. ”In my 15 years I have never seen this bad a season.”