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Himachal

It’s homestays over high-end hotels in Himachal this holiday season

October 25, 2020 07:33 AM

COURTESY HT OCT 25

It’s homestays over high-end hotels in Himachal this holiday season

A homestay for tourists near Shimla. FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSE

Gaurav Bisht and Navneet Rathore

letterschd@hindustantimes.com

Shimla : At a time when the Covid-hit tourism industry of Himachal Pradesh is struggling for revival, visitors to the hill state are preferring countryside homestays over high-end hotels at popular holiday destinations.

The loss to the state’s tourism industry due to the pandemic this year has been pegged at ₹ 20,000 crore.

Last year, 1.72 crore tourists visited the state, while nearly 80,000 have visited Himachal so far in 2020.

With the state government opening its doors for visitors in the last week of September, tourists have chosen to spend their time in countryside homestays rather than holidaying in hotels of traditional tourist destinations of Kullu, Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala and Kasauli.

“There is hardly 25% occupancy in hotels. The losses are huge for us. With rail and air services still hit, tourists from Gujarat and West Bengal have skipped a holiday to Himachal this festive season,” says Ashwani Bhamba of the Federation of Hotels and Restaurateurs.

Weekend tourism picks up in apple belt

The tourist inflow is more from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh on weekends. Hoteliers in and around Shimla are demanding the resumption of inter-state Volvo luxury bus services to facilitate visitors from nearby states.Homestays in Mashobra, Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda, Theog, Kotgarh, Kotkhai and Rohru, all places around Shimla, are popular with tourists. Homestays near Kullu, Manali and Parvati Valley are also attracting visitors.Many orchard owners have turned their houses into homestays.

Economical and convenient option

During the pandemic, tourists prefer homestays in the lap of nature as they are away from the hustle and bustle of towns.

“Homestays with orchards are a refreshing retreat and becoming popular,” says entrepreneur Palak Chauhan, 22, who owns Jannat, a homestay in Mashobra, 10 km from Shimla. “It’s safer to holiday away from cities during the pandemic. A stay in the countryside is more refreshing than a high-end hotel,” says Prashant Prajapati, a tourist from Noida, who had recently holidayed in Kotgarh.

Moreover, the homestays are economical. A room at a homestay is available for between ₹ 1,800 and ₹2,500 a night, while a room in a luxury resort costs between ₹ 10,000 and ₹15,000 a night.

Almost every homestay has its own website with information such as the type of room, meal plans and facilities.

Homestays can be booked with the help of travel agents, while guests also recommend them to friends and family. Most homestays offer breakfast, lunch and dinner according to the preference of guests and they have housekeeping staff.

According to the state tourism department, Shimla district has 433 homestays with a bed capacity of 2,676, while the entire state has 2,189 homestays with a bed capacity of 12,181

 
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