Religious tourism may get boost as Uttarakhand eases curbs
With Covid-19 test reports no longer mandatory for Char Dham pilgrims, the hotel and travel industry is expecting the return of normalcy in the sector that has been hit by restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Bringing reports of Covid-19 negative tests conducted 96 hours [prior to the arrival] was a major deterrent due to which pilgrims and tourists were refraining from coming to Uttarakhand. But now, it is not compulsory. Visitors from many states like Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and even Maharashtra are booking rooms in Haridwar hotels,” said hotelier Neeraj Kumar.
Uday Ram Semwal, the manager of another hotel, said they are preparing for the arrival of tourists. “Past five months have been quite bad... Now, we are hoping for revival going by online bookings and telephonic inquiries...”
Ganga Sabha president Pradeep Jha said they welcome easing of norms as this will attract pilgrims and tourists and provide a major boost to the livelihood of priests and related religious tourism industry.
Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said the Char Dham pilgrimage sites are the backbone of the state’s economy. “Barring Badrinath shrine, the state government ensured rest of shrines--Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri--opened on pre-announced dates amid the pandemic in April. Religious, tourism, and adventure activities are being allowed which will lead to normalcy in related sectors affected for the past five months.”
He asked tourists to wears face masks, adhere to social distancing norms, and other standard operating procedures and guidelines.
Haridwar alone has two thousand odd hotels, resorts, guest houses.