No takers for hill stations as Maharashtra goes to polls

MTDC resorts in Karla, Panshet, Matheran and Mahabaleshwar don’t have even 10% bookings on October 15; there are no bookings for day picnics either

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation’s (MTDC) resorts, which are otherwise brimming with tourists in the month of October, are receiving their lowest response of the season around the 15th when the state will have assembly elections. The resorts in Karla, Panshet, Matheran and Mahabaleshwar which are popular among Punekars for day picnics, are barely 10 per cent occupied by tourists.

Mahabaleshwar

Although MTDC is losing business due to the low response from tourists, according to election officials, it is a positive sign of increasing awareness among citizens about their voting rights. “During the Lok Sabha elections, we did not see such a trend and almost all resorts across Pune district were booked in advance. However, this time, tourists have not preferred even day picnics on October 15 and that’s the reason almost all the resorts near the city are empty,” said an MTDC official, Subhash Phadtare.

MTDC’s heritage hotel
MTDC’s heritage hotel at Mahabaleshwar, which has 108 rooms, has bookings only for 23 rooms on October 15

According to officials, MTDC’s Mahabaleshwar resort has 108 rooms, out of which, so far only 23 rooms have been booked for October 15. Punekars’ favourite spot Karla, where MTDC recently built a plush resort, received bookings for only eight out of 73 rooms.

“Tourists are not even enquiring for bookings particularly around October 15. On the other hand, MTDC is seeing a huge rush between October 20 and October 30, and not a single room at any of these resorts is available during these dates,” said a booking in-charge of MTDC, who did not want to be identified.

Mahabaleshwar

SVEEP effect
The Nodal officer of the Election Commission of India’s Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral participation (SVEEP), Yashwant Mankhedkar, said it was the impact of SVEEPs’ efforts, including performing as many as 600 street plays in Pune
district to appeal to voters to exercise their right of voting, that had caused this change. “Our main target was the urban population and if MTDC has received a low response from tourists, that means we have achieved our goal,” said Mankhedkar.

Voter way
Citizens are also keen to exercise their right of voting. PR professional Sheetha Chacko said she has a holiday on Wednesday, but she is firm about voting. “I am excited for the elections. I am not going for any picnic, instead I will prefer to vote, and would appeal to my friends to do so too,” Chacko said. Anant Pandit, who owns a construction company, said he has sanctioned half-day leave for his employees. “I will also not be going anywhere. Instead, after casting my vote, I will get back to work,” Pandit said.

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