sharbani banerjee
NEW DELHI, 25 JUNE: The flash floods and devastation in Uttarkhand has resulted in mass cancellations of holiday bookings at hill stations. Tour operators in the Capital are also being flooded with queries about the safety of such visits.  
Tour operators said the Uttarakhand tragedy has resulted in a 20-30 per cent loss.
“May and June are considered the peak season for tourism in the state, with hotels registering 100 per cent occupancy, but now they mostly wear a deserted look and several have also been washed away in the floods,” said Manish from Diamond Travels.
Apart from Mussoorie or Nainital, tour operators said tourists are now also wary of visiting other hill stations such as Shimla, Manali and Dalhousie.
One such tourist, Neha, agreed. “We are planning to visit Shimla (file photo) on 26 June for five days. However, we are pretty worried about the recent cloudburst in Uttarakhand. What about the situation in Shimla? Also, is it really advisable to continue with the trip?” she asked.
“Business has been adversely affected as not just Uttarakhand, but Mussoorie,  Shimla and Manali have also been hit badly, as tourists are choosing to avoid the area. Many people have cancelled their plans and no queries are being received for hill stations,” said Dev Jai from Travel Gateway Pvt Ltd.
According to tour operators,  23-24 lakh pilgrims visit Uttarakhand annually for the Char Dham Yatra, which includes Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, but the disaster has hit tourism badly.  “If we consider government figures, thousands of hotels, inns and residential houses have been severely affected by the flood and hundreds have been obliterated,” said Ganga Singh Bhandari, a Delhi-based tour operator. He said the next two years might be very difficult for the sector.
“My hotel beside Kedarnath temple got washed away. Of the 12 buses we had sent from our centres in Delhi and Rishikesh, some are yet to return. We also lost three pilgrims,” he said. He noted even if people want to go there, they would not be able to do so as roads have been destroyed.
“For the time being, we are asking tourists to refrain from travelling to Uttarakhand,” said Rohit, an employee of a travel company.