Curbs eased, but most hotels in Dharamsala unoccupied

Tourists opt for unregistered homestays in villages, say hoteliers

Curbs eased, but most hotels in Dharamsala unoccupied

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, June 15

There have been reports that thousands of tourist vehicles have entered the state, but hotels at McLeodganj in Kangra district have still not done much business. Sources said the pandemic seemed to have changed the pattern of tourists. Most of the tourists prefer to stay in home stays in rural areas, rather than in tourist hubs like McLeodganj, they said.

Ashwani Bamba, president of hotel and restaurant association of Dharamsala, while talking to The Tribune said as per reports, about 2,700 vehicles had entered the Kangra region in the last few days. However, hotels in McLeodganj, Bhagsunag and Naddi were lying vacant. “Today, I have just one guest at my hotel. The district administration should check where tourists are going if they are not staying in registered hotels,” he said.

Bamba alleged that online platforms such as Airbnb and Oyo were offering rooms of unregistered properties in rural areas. Very few of these properties are registered while the rest are unregistered, he alleged. “People running these properties are not paying any taxes,” he alleged.

“Amid the pandemic, when the hotel industry is already reeling under losses, the mushrooming of unregistered properties is hitting the business,” he said.

Sanjeev Gandhi, general secretary of the Smart City Dharamsala Hotel and Restaurant Association, said, “We were expecting tourist flow to increase after the government eased entry conditions. Most hoteliers had called their staff back. However, to date, most hotels in upper Dharamsala were lying unoccupied.”

He said most of the summer tourist season of Kangra region would be over by the end of June. Even though the state government has eased the entry restrictions, the hotel industry is not receiving any online booking. “Mostly tourists are coming from Punjab and they are staying in camps or home stays in rural areas,” he said.

The hoteliers demanded that the mushrooming of unregistered home stays in the state should be checked.

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