Coronavirus: Hiking, tour operators' businesses take a plunge

Updated: Mar 24, 2020, 11:47 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, tour operators are facing up to 1,000 cancellations in spite of asking customers to reschedule their trips

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

One another industry that has been hurt badly is that of local tours and hiking companies who are not just down but out.

"Yes. We are completely out not just down. Our business is dependent on daily work that we do and in cases like this, we are hit the hardest. We take daily tours to guide tourists, but if tourism industry is in limbo, we are helpless. The cancellations are piling up and this way our industry will finish," says tour operator Chitra Acharya. She says that the industry is the hardest hit.

Shripad Sapkal from Stepin Adventure said that the adventure industry was completely down. "The exams were supposed to get over and the time of summer camps was approaching. These have all been cancelled. There have been over 1,000 cancellations. We try to convince parents to reschedule, but many seek cancellations. All this is one segment of the industry, then there are cases of Himalayan treks. But I guess no one can do anything as it is a national calamity," Sapkal said.

Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes said they had taken a decision on Monday to cancel all treks for a month till April 15. "We had been alerting foreign tourists not to come and stay safe and have been cancelling the treks as our industry is about being out there. But today, we took a call and have put off all further events for a month."

As Mid-Day took a walk outside the busy museum district at Colaba that usually has a bus full of tourists pouring at the museum and Gateway, there was a significant drop. "The crowds have gone. There has been a visible drop in foreign tourists coming down," Shankar Iyer, a local tourist photographer said.

Speaking with Mid-Day, Rajeshwaran, a photographer near Gateway of India said that leave foreign tourists, but the local tourist numbers have also come down. "Families coming in groups and local transport buses coming down in large numbers is also down since this weekend. It is not a loss for us, but almost an end if this continues any longer. We are praying for good is all what I can say."

Those conducting walks have also been affected as the Mumbai Police has invoked Section 144 that prohibits assembly of crowds. "We have suspended walks till further notice and there has also been a drop in demand," Rajan Kayal," another operator at Colaba said.

Museums and public places have already announced closure due to the Corona scare and now it has started affecting the overall industry.

Trekkers and local hiking expeditions have also been hit in large numbers. "Yes. The planned treks have either been cancelled or being postponed. We have not had to give large-scale refunds as yet as trekkers are usually enthusiasts and they have postponed plans as a precaution. It is bad for the over industry," trekker Shirish P said.

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