Hoteliers who licked their chops expecting Simhastha pilgrims to book up rooms are staring at vacancy.
Hotel industry experts say most pilgrims visit Ujjain for a day and go back by evening, thanks to new four-lane roads from Indore, Dewas and Barnagar connecting the historical city.
“They are either taking a late evening flight or train out of Indore and other nearby cities. The room occupancy level in our hotel is about 75%, which is below our expectations,” said Arpit Agrawal of Rudraksh Resorts.
Some hotels are also receiving cancellation requests after adverse media reports about mismanagement during the first shahi snan on April 22, and soaring temperature.
Indore Hotels Association president Sumit Suri attributed the less-than-expected crowd at Simhastha to soaring temperatures and people’s preoccupation with the marriage season.
“Expectations of hoteliers in Indore were not very high as good hotels have come up in Ujjain. But even then, the response has been poor so far. It’s likely to improve during the second week of May,” he told HT. The association has 85 hotels under its umbrella with a combined capacity of about 2,000 rooms and the average room tariff is about Rs 3,000 per day.
Average room occupancy for major city hotels in 2015 stood at 70-75%, propped by increase in the number of business travellers and tourists. Almost all the good hotels have taxi services where they provide the tourists with a chauffeur-driven vehicle and charge on the basis of distance. Taxi aggregators Uber and Ola are also providing daily services from Indore to Ujjain, and the administration is running buses every five minutes from Indore.
“We are happy that road infrastructure and transport services have improved …, but from the business point of view the response has been lukewarm,” Agarwal said.
The ‘home stay’ scheme has also failed to take off due to strict registration norms.