Receding cases of Covid-19 and the loosening of the curbs imposed to contain the spread, as well as relatively cool weather, have encouraged travel and tourism. The pandemic hit this sector hard. Tourist destinations like Diu, Saputara, Daman, Udaipur, Mount Abu, Statue of Unity, Sasan Gir, Somnath and Dwarka and many more. are currently teeming with people who might be waiting to get off.
Industry estimates show business has picked up and bookings are full every weekend through the end of August in all nearby tourist destinations in and around the state.
With the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, thousands of tourists from southern Gujarat are rushing to the closer destinations of Saputara and Daman. On the weekends, traffic in Saputara is chaotic, while most of the hotels in Daman are full, although the beaches are not yet open.
“Restaurants and hotels have good bookings on weekends. The flow of tourists will gradually increase as the government announces further easing,” said Harish Tangal, vice president of the Daman Hoteliers Association.
The same is also the case with Saputara. “People from nearby destinations go to Saputara for the weekend. But those from more distant destinations, including neighboring countries, avoid travel,” said Shamitabh Jena, deputy vice president of the Lords Group of Hotels.
Tour operators claim that shorter getaways are preferred over long distance trips and people are opting for personally drivable destinations to avoid public transportation and the risk of being close to strangers.
Slow movements worry tour operators
Despite the surge in tourist movement over the past three weeks, the recovery is far from pre-Covid levels, industry players say. Manish Sharma, Chairman of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI) – Gujarat Chapter, said, “The Gujarat domestic tourism business was estimated to be anywhere near a revival in domestic tourism in the pre-pandemic period. In 2021-22, the summer vacation season, which accounts for at least 60% of our revenues, was wiped out due to the ominous second wave of Covid-19 infections. “Another big travel season is the Diwali vacation. However, tour operators say people stopped have to plan their breaks in advance, so there are hardly any inquiries to get bookings for Diwali break. Our focus is also on long weekends in August for which tour operators have package deals. We have found that people are not making long-term plans to be wary of Covid. If the situation stays good we may see some movement in Diwali bookings a month or two later, “said Anuj Pathak, president of the Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Gujarat (TAG).
(With contributions from Nimesh Khakhariya in Rajkot and Yagnesh Mehta in Surat)
Hotel operation rings in the off-season
Greater pull in tourist traffic also increases hotel occupancy at tourist destinations across the state and even in the surrounding states. Hotel and Restaurant Association (HRA) – Gujarat estimates suggest that the average occupancy rate in tourist destinations has increased by over 50%, and this is a good sign of a recovery for both the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Statue of Unity saw huge crowds all week and was almost sold out on the weekends. Nikhil Aggarwal, partner at Lallooji and Sons, which manages the SoU tent city, said, “The turnout is decent; People who were cooped up in their homes during the second wave are now starting to step out,% sold out on the weekends. “The occupancy of hotels in Diu, Junagadh, Sasan, Dwarka and Mandvi of Kutch is 100% over the weekend, according to travel agents said that such a rush can usually be seen during the Christmas season and on long weekends. “As the monsoons begin, July is usually a lull for tourism. This time, after the second wave, the tourism business has increased significantly as the hotels all over Diu are still full, “said a hotelier from Diu. Gir National Park is closed due to the lion mating season, but the region attracts tourists, who go there for short breaks. Devaliya Safari Park is still open, as is the Girnar Cable Car, which is becoming big crowd pullers. A number of resorts in nearby destinations are also full on the weekends. “We have a break with after a long time of the family, “said Vishvesh Majumdar, a businessman.