The cyclone Fani, that has brought with it trails of devastation in Odisha, has virtually destroyed the three principal tourism hubs of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar, also known as the Golden Triangle.
The tourist operators and stakeholders in the tourism sector are bearing the heavy cyclone-induced brunt as the tourism hubs continue to wear the look of war-torn zones even after cyclone’s destructive leap 120 hours back.
This time of the year is the summer vacation, and it is the peak season for tourism which has suffered unimaginable losses due to the natural calamity.
Fani cast its shadow on the tourism sector in the Puri pilgrim town adjoining Konarak and Bhubaneswar with panicky tourists cutting short their holiday trips and making the homeward journey. At Puri, for instance, tourists were asked to vacate hotels on 2 May for their own safety.
The few who opted to stay behind are cursing themselves for having done so as life continues to be disrupted with no water and electricity. Still worse is that the tourist finds it hard to get food. Plastic money has gone out of circulation and cash is scarce.
The concept of Digital India lies shattered with counters refusing to entertain as they are not accepting cards nor are able to provide bills as the computers are dead without power and internet.
Hotels have run out of back-up power by way of gen sets and at many such places, they inform the guests at the booking counter itself that there is no guarantee on air-conditioned rooms.
It will take at least one month for normal life’s restoration in these places. There is a cancellation of bookings.
The pilgrim town besides Konarak and Bhubaneswar wears a deserted look and is not likely to be refurbished before the next month. The cyclone has dealt a major economic blow on those living in tourism spheres, said Puri-based tourist operators.
Hoteliers at Puri recall how sea waters had gushed in crossing the road which till date is sand cast. The entire marine drive along Puri-Konark is sand cast till date. The sea was furious, much of our glass windows remain shattered, carpets and furniture wet, they said while lamenting that it would take months to restore everything that has been destroyed by Fani.
The visit of tourists is always on the higher side during the summer months. People from various parts have a special liking towards Puri because of the pleasant climate and various tourist attractions. The tourism-regulated economy has borne the brunt of cyclonic devastation. Still, we are hopeful of business picking up next week, observed a few.
Puri has been the worst hit; the government circuit house, Raj Bhawan and several other official buildings are damaged beyond recognition. Even the furniture of the circuit house was thrown out by the 180-200 kmph strong wind.
On October 29-30, 1999, the catastrophic super cyclone had triggered massive devastation in the temple town. Puri had gone without power and drinking water for two days. The tourists were stranded in hotels as Puri remained cut-off from the rest of the world for over 48 hours, recalled the tourist operators.
But Fani has exceeded the horror of the super cyclone of 1999 in terms of destruction and disruption to life as it is already four days and water, power, and telecommunication are yet to be restored.
Unless focused attention is paid to the revival of the hotel and tourism sector, Odisha would stand to lose a great deal over the next six months.