Puri: The outbreak of novel coronavirus and the subsequent nationwide lockdown to tackle the pandemic have given a bloody blow to the tourism sector in Puri district.
The tourism sector in Puri had sustained extensive damages due to the cyclonic storm Fani that made a landfall on Odisha coast May 3 last year.
Puri district has occupied a special place in the tourism map of Odisha. The district is home to many famous shrines and iconic structures like Srimandir, Konark Sun Temple, Alarnath temple, Baliharchandi and Ramchandi temple. Besides, Chilika lake, Puri and Chandrabhaga beaches, Buddhist structures at Kuruma and heritage crafts village of Raghurajpur attract tourists and visitors from across the country and abroad.
At least 1,000 hotels and lodging houses have come up in Puri city and its nearby areas to cater to the needs of tourists. Similarly, the city has several tour and travel agencies to provide service to the visitors. Many locals usually earn a livelihood by depending upon the flourishing tourism sector.
“Lakhs of devotees from across the globe usually visit the Holy City of Puri to pay obeisance to Lord Jagannath at Srimandir. The Sun Temple at Konark has been declared as Unesco World Heritage Site. The golden beach of Puri has been attracting tourists since many years. Tourism sector is the lifeline of Puri district,” said a tour operator here.
However, almost all tourist spots in the district have been shut for visitors for last four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The administration has also put restrictions on the entry of outsiders into Puri district.
To tackle the pandemic, the district administration had closed almost all hotels and holiday homes in Puri city and its nearby areas March 20 this year. It has recently allowed the hoteliers to resume their business in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.
“There are restrictions on the congregation of people and outsiders’ entry into the district. Moreover, almost all tourist spots in the district have been shut for people. In this scenario, we do not see any hope for the tourism sector in Puri,” said an hotelier.
It is worth mentioning here that cyclonic storm Fani had left a trail of devastation in Puri district. Many tourist spots had sustained extensive damages due to the summer storm. “The hotel industry in Puri bore the brunt of last year’s cyclonic storm. We suffered losses to the tune of crores of rupees. This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the hostel industry. We are not sure when the situation will improve,” said another hotelier.