Continuous rains over the past month, the misty mountains, gurgling streams and waterfalls have been a cherry on the cake for tourists in this scenic hill station of Mount Abu in Rajasthan. If you try booking any hotel or resort in Mount Abu on weekends, the response is invariably a, “sold out.”
Till June, the hill station was in the green category, but isolated cases started since then and went almost unnoticed. Mount Abu has so far reported 54 cases out of which 15 are active now.
Being a four-hour drive from Ahmedabad, Mount Abu is popular among Gujaratis, as it also serves as a watering hole for the liquor-starved neighbours. As borders opened after the lockdown, they were the first ones to arrive. But the rush began in August. The local hospitality industry calls it “COVID Tourism”.
“We lost the summer rush to the pandemic. In July, travellers were tentative. As rains came in August, it opened the floodgates of cooped up tourists. Now, the destination is a full house on weekends,” said Kashyap Jani, former president of Mount Abu Hotel Association. He also said while Gujaratis traditionally account for 80-90 percent of tourists, people from nearby cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur are also thronging the destination.
The rates charged by hotels are as high as pre-COVID days, but Jani said, the weekday rates are cheaper by about 50 percent. With occupancy during weekdays rising from 10-15 percent a month back to about 40 percent now, rates are also rising proportionately.
District collector Bhagwati Prasad said, “We are not worried about the rush, but the administration is strictly monitoring the adherence of SOPs by hotels and visitors.” It’s hard to guess how long the hill station can remain as an oasis in the COVID world.”