Traffic Congestion and Environmental Problems Hovering Over Uttarakhand

Despite a great tourist inflow, the hospitality industry is still at a slow pace in Uttarakhand. BW Hotelier spoke to various industry veterans to discuss the problems and areas where Government should work upon.

TOURISM IS a major driver of economic growth and livelihood promotion in the Uttarakhand state of India. The contribution of tourism to the state gross domestic product (GDP) and employment generation is quite significant. Uttarakhand is the first state in the country which has created “Tourist Development Board” by legislation. Despite a great tourist inflow, the hospitality industry is still at a slow pace in Uttarakhand. The fact that two Indian largest, most worshipped and sacred rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, originate from the glaciers of Uttarakhand, is a good reason to count for the enormous tourism inflow.

According to the data shared by ixigo, Indians are increasingly seeking an experience that a normal budget hotel may not be able to provide. With rising incomes, people are willing to spend more. “Our data suggest that about 57 percent tourists prefer luxury and 43 percent prefer budget accommodation options in Uttarakhand. Homestays are another upcoming trend, especially among millennials,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-founder, ixigo.

Apart from usual destinations such as Dehradun, Nainital, Rishikesh and Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, a surge in travel to Chamoli, Ranikhet, Binsar and Dhanaulti, among others shows a positive curve. While many travellers look for adventure activities such as trekking and rock climbing, millennials are also looking for unique camping locations, yoga retreats and spa resorts.

“Summers have traditionally meant more business for Uttarakhand. This season coupled with woes in Shimla and Srinagar have ensured a good increase in ARR (Average Room Rate) and occupancy levels. With a delayed monsoon and the heat not relenting any time soon this pace should continue till August,” informs Abhishek Goel, MD, Regenta LP Vilas by Royal Orchids. However, most hill stations in the state haven’t been able to cope with the huge influx of tourists with lack of parking facilities and traffic woes.

Tourism and infrastructural facilities in the state are deteriorating and no major steps are taken to rectify or rebuild the infrastructure, because of the geographic conditions of Uttarakhand, it requires special attention to develop its infrastructure. “To promote the same, the government should regularize certain aspects like the peak season traffic congestion & remove unauthorized roadside eateries which lead to congestion. Steps should be taken towards conservation of adequate water resources to avoid shortage in the near future,” commented Anil Sharma, Vice President, Jaypee Residency Manor Mussoorie.

Environment pollution is also creating a huge impact on the State. Water pollution in the Ganges would directly impact customer experience at the resorts near Rishikesh and Haridwar. “The far-reaching impact of pollution has an obvious and direct impact on the environment and the local surroundings we try and showcase to our guests. Higher temperatures leading to forest fires in Uttarakhand would impact the tourist influx at our 30+ resorts in the state. Extreme temperatures in Delhi & Rohtak mean our farm themed resorts may not be as attractive a proposition as they would otherwise merit,” said Aditi Balbir, Co-Founder of V Resorts.

Adding more to this Anil Sharma said, “Jungle fires & reducing water in current resources make a strong impact. We are still trying to maintain good air around Mussoorie for now. A big threat is imposed on the jungles which are depleting every day due to constructions in surroundings.”

Hospitality industry definitely is growing at a fast pace but simultaneously facing difficulties. Especially the state like Uttarakhand which has vast potential for the hospitality industry faces so many difficulties due to its geography and government negligence. If the government takes significant steps in this direction like improve accessibility, promotional measures, low taxes, etc. then the conditions will significantly improve and this will lead to the increase in a number of tourists in Uttarakhand which in turn increase the number of hotels and also improve the quality of services provided by the hotels.

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