Omicron scare impacts hospitality sector in Bodh Gaya

Dec 05, 2021 07:41 PM IST

Bookings and even queries to block facilities at hotels, tour packages and guides have stopped coming

Though the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease is yet to make an entry into the state, the hospitality sector in Bodh Gaya, the major tourist destination of Bihar, has started feeling its impacts. Bookings and even queries to block facilities at hotels, tour packages and guides have stopped coming and even those which were to be confirmed in the last three-four days, have been cancelled, as per hotel owners, package tour planners and guides in Bodh Gaya.

Image for representation. (File photo)
Image for representation. (File photo)

Bodh Gaya is one of the most visited destinations in the state during winters. It was here Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, located on the premises of Mahabodhi temple. To mark the spiritual significance of that incident, various Buddhist sects and groups hold Buddhist Puja ceremonies, rituals and prayer sessions during winters which include Chivar Daan, a ritual of donating robes to the monks and nuns to Sutta Path and prayers for world peace. These festivals are learnt to be attended by tourists from across the world, keeping the hotels, tour package centres and guides at Bodh Gaya occupied and throbbing with activities throughout the tourism season from October to March.

“And when Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual Guru is in the holy city, more than 1.5 lakh foreign tourists stay back there. A huge number of tourists mean big businesses for all in Bodh Gaya, ranging from hotels, tour planners and guides to roadside food vendors and handicrafts sellers. Everybody remains engaged and earn money. And this time as the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), which manages the maintenance and activities at the Mahabodhi temple, allowed six Buddhist festivals and Pujas, the entire sector expected a good season after a long gap of two seasons amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The knock made by Omicron variant of the Covid-19 in the country has spoilt everything,” Suresh Kumar Singh, the Bodh Gaya Travel Association secretary, said.

Even the case of a member of the Mongolian delegation, which visited Bodh Gaya a couple of days ago, testing positive for Covid-19 seems to have created panic among people.

“We had a good number of queries for the bookings of the packages and hotels. In fact, people were preparing to visit Bodh Gaya in December end or in January-February 2022 to attend Buddhist Pujas. And Srilankans were planning to turn up in March 2022,” he said. But there came the news of Omicron cases being identified in the country and all the queries stopped. Even those which were to be confirmed have been put on hold, he added.

“What if the state again comes under the lockdown?” he said.

Rakesh Kumar, the Bodh Gaya tourist guide association secretary said the hospitality sector people just started getting back to normal when the Omicron hit again. “The immediate impact of the new variant of Covid-19 is Union government’s decision to revise its plan to resume international flights from December 15. Now, the new date will be announced later, “ he said.

The hospitality sector in Bodh Gaya cannot survive without foreign tourists. Though the government has been promoting domestic tourism and people are also visiting Bodh Gaya, they are not staying back, he added.


    Reena has been a journalist for over two decades. She has the experience of covering wide range of issues, including art, culture, archaeology, tourism, forest and women issues. She has also authored a book and is a recipient of the ‘Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Award’, given by the government of Bihar.

Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, June 09, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals