Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Farmers’ Protest Impacts Amritsar’s Tourism Industry

by Manjari Singh

The vibrant streets of Amritsar, usually bustling with tourists exploring its rich culture and heritage, are now witnessing a somber tone as the ongoing ‘Dilli Chalo’ stir by farmers takes its toll on the city’s tourism sector. Over the past 10 days, since the commencement of the agitation, there has been a noticeable decline in both occupancy rates in hotels and the sale of indigenous items that are popular souvenirs among visitors.

According to reports, there has been a significant 35% decrease in room bookings across various hotels compared to the same period last year. This downturn has affected both luxury and budget segments of accommodations. The luxury hotels have seen a decline of approximately 35% in occupancy, while budget hotels have suffered even more with a drop of over 60% since February 13th.

Jitender Pal Sohal, the General Manager of Radisson Blu, highlighted the negative sentiment prevailing in the hospitality industry, with potential customers refraining from making inquiries due to the ongoing agitation. Similarly, Surinder Singh, head of the Federation of Hotel and Guest Houses, emphasized the dire situation faced by budget accommodations, which usually cater to tourists seeking affordable options within the city.

The impact of the protest extends beyond just accommodation. Traders specializing in indigenous products such as shawls, Punjabi ‘juttis’, and ‘papad-warriyan’ are also feeling the economic strain. Ravinder Singh, representing the Papad-Warriyan Association, reported a staggering 90% decline in footfall from other states over the past two weeks. This downturn has resulted in a slump in sales for traders across various sectors, including those selling Punjabi ‘juttis’ and shawls.

The current setback adds to the challenges that the tourism industry in Amritsar has faced over the past year. Surinder Singh highlighted a series of unfortunate events, including disease outbreaks during the monsoon season and a prolonged harsh winter, which have already impacted tourist inflow. Now, with the farmers’ protest, the situation has further exacerbated, leading to financial distress for many investors who have invested in properties around the Golden Temple.

As the standoff between farmers and the government continues, there is growing concern among stakeholders in the tourism sector about the long-term repercussions on the city’s economy. While the farmers’ protest represents a legitimate grievance, its unintended consequences on Amritsar’s tourism industry underscore the need for constructive dialogue and resolution to mitigate the collateral damage on local businesses and livelihoods.

Manjari Singh

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