Demonetisation of 1,000 and 500-rupee banknotes has started hitting the tourism sector in Uttarakhand with a number of hotels and resorts reporting cancellation of booking over the last couple of days.
Along with Ramnagar–the gateway to the Corbett Tiger Reserve, which is slated to open from November 15 for tourists– hill stations of Mussoorie and Nainital, too have reported cancellation of bookings, says hotel owners and tour operators.
Wildlife, one of the most import sectors for tourism in state, too has been hit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi abolishing high-value banknotes.
Tour operators say that more than 50% of booking cancellations has been reported from Ramnagar along with Haridwar, a popular hub for wildlife and religious tourism in the state.
Hotel owners and tour operators say a large chunk of domestic tourists who visit the mountain state, are pay-in-cash-only clientele and with ATMs either closed or have run of cash, holidaymakers are finding it tough.
“With the government abolishing high-value banknotes, people who booked hotels and resorts for wedding reception have cancelled bookings and so have those who booked resorts to visit Corbett,” says Hari Singh Mann, president of Ramnagar Hotel and Resort Association.
“Bookings of resorts in Ramanagar have dropped by more than 50%,” he tells Hindustan Times.
Ranjit Singh Bisht, another resort owner who runs the Corbett Motel in Dhikuli, too is also facing problems. With an eye on the winter tourist season he renovated his resort, but now after demonetization of 1,000 and 500-rupee bills, Bisht is facing problems getting bookings.
“We are swiping debit and credit cards but not all do that. ATMs are shut and tourists are facing difficulties in getting money for their expenses,” he says.
Hoteliers and resort owners have started an initiative of “visit now, pay later” to accommodate tourists, who can pay their bills once they return home. But whether the initiative will work or not, hoteliers and resort owners are still sure.
“Demonitization high denomination currency notes have adversely affected our business and we have decided give tourists an option to make payments ‘at ease’ so that they can remit cash once they are back home,” says Sandeep Sahni, president of Uttarakhand Hotel and Resort Association.
“But tourists who are on the move are facing the actual brunt. The coming weeks will be difficult for our industry,” he says.