Himachal Pradesh Hoteliers Against ‘Quarantine Tourism’

by Sanjana Shenoy
Himachal Pradesh Hoteliers Against ‘Quarantine Tourism’

What if you could travel to the dream destination of your choice, but forbidden to step out of the hotel? All you can do is soak in the beauty of your dream destination from the vicinity of your hotel room. This is ‘quarantine tourism’. Jai Ram Thakur, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh wishes to promote the state as a ‘quarantine tourism’ destination. According to the proposal, tourists can travel to Himachal Pradesh. But they are mandated to stay inside their hotels throughout the duration of their stay. The hotel industry is against this. They don’t feel it’s a good step for quarantine tourism in Himachal Pradesh as it can put the safety of everyone at risk.

Chief Minister Of Himachal Pradesh Wants To Open State For Quarantine Tourism

As India slowly starts easing restrictions, Himachal Pradesh is keen to restart tourism, not just any tourism but ‘quarantine tourism’. The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur proposed to promote Himachal Pradesh as a ‘quarantine tourism’ destination. The hilly state is usually one of the most loved destinations among tourists. Three million tourists visited here in the previous summers. Himachal Pradesh is one of the 10 snowiest hill stations in India. 

But there is a catch. The proposed version of tourism here prohibits tourists from going sightseeing or even leaving their hotel altogether. The proposal states that if the quarantine rule is violated then strict action would be taken on both the hotel and the tourist. Guests are required to stay in their hotel throughout the duration of their visit to Himachal Pradesh.

Quarantine tourism involves hoteliers welcoming tourists with kadah, an immunity-boosting drink prepared with herbs and spices. This is a suggestion to serve this drink to guests for health purposes. The health department will plan the menu of hotels in the state.

Also Read: Lightning Strikes The Shiva Lingam Every Year At Bijli Mahadev Temple In Himachal Pradesh

Hotel Industry In Himachal Pradesh Believes Quarantine Tourism Can Put People At Risk

The hotel industry remains unconvinced by this plan. Sanjay Sood is the President of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association. He informed VICE that they don’t feel it’s a good step for quarantine tourism in Himachal Pradesh. The peak tourist season coincided with the lockdown. Himachal Pradesh currently has a tally of 400 coronavirus cases, five deaths and 194 recoveries. Sood states that quarantine tourism can be unsafe for their employees, properties and the citizens residing in towns and villages.

He points out that most of Himachal Pradesh is currently safe. The tourism season spanning April, May and June seems to be lost due to the outbreak. So he feels they shouldn’t open borders for tourism yet as cases are going to rise exponentially in June and July. Sood informs that until both domestic and international flights normalize tourism must be put on hold. Domestic flights resumed. International flights to resume in Phase 3 of Unlock. 

Hotelier States Himachal Pradesh Shouldn’t Open Hotels Till End Of September to Ensure Safety

Sanjay Sood adds that with rising cases across India in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Punjab, they shouldn’t consider opening hotels, at least till the end of August or even September. They can open it sooner if they have a vaccine to cure coronavirus.  When its safe to travel again, check out this video on the top tourist places in Shimla.

Hoteliers in Dharamsala refuse to accept the proposal of the tourism department to restart operations. As per Tribune, members of the hotel association of Dharamsala state that the government attempts to shift the entire burden of containing the coronavirus on the hotel industry. State co-convenor of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurants Association (FOHRA), Sanjeev Gandhi states that some of the tourism department’s proposed conditions are illogical.

Currently, Himachal Pradesh hotels continue to stay open for non-tourism purposes.  This includes housing people visiting the state for official and business purposes. Locals can stay in these hotels. However, tourists from other states can’t. The neighbouring state, Uttarakhand continues to keep its hotels shut despite getting a green signal from the government, as hoteliers find guidelines financially unviable.