“Uttarakhand has taken a balanced approach in removing the travel restrictions and presented some significant learnings for other tourist destinations in India and across the globe.
“The economy of Uttarakhand has a high dependence on tourism and the stakeholders in the industry have been requesting for relaxation or removal of travel restrictions. Several businesses have been severely impacted due to the travel restrictions and consumer apprehensions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of Unlock 4 and the impact on the local tourism industry, Uttarakhand has removed the travel restrictions but has not thrown caution to the wind.
“Tourists would have to register themselves and they will have to present negative test results or undergo thermal screening. The guidelines mention the actions that need to be taken in case of both asymptomatic as well as symptomatic cases. The state would be providing the infrastructure but the guidelines also mention the responsibilities of other stakeholders – tourists as well as hotels. Indeed, it is not the most convenient solution for tourists but considering the rising cases, safety must not be subordinated. The state has also announced a ‘Tourists Incentive Coupons’ scheme under which tourists would get either INR1,000 or 25% discount – whichever is lower – on per day accommodation charges for up to three days.
“Travel dependent destinations are desperate to revive the industry and are coming up with various strategies to attract tourists. However, several destinations have taken the path of either extreme caution or extreme imprudence. Destinations are required to find the middle path to ensure safety as well as to increase tourism activity, and the guidelines and incentives issued/offered by Uttarakhand largely fit that requirement.” Says Animesh Kumar, Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData