While people in Himachal are opposing the entry of tourists into the state fearing spread of Covid-19, Jibhi and Tirthan valley of Kullu are opening for tourists from September 5 with strict conditions.
After meeting of the owners of hotels, guesthouses and homestays of Jibhi and Tirthan valley, it was decided that they will allow booking from September 5 onwards provided that advance booking is made for a minimum of 10 days.
The tourists need to bring Covid-19 negative certificate which should not be older than 72 hours. Tourists will have to stay in the hotel for the first five days but can go sightseeing in the next five days along with a local guide. They cannot travel by unknown taxi and will have to bring their own car.
Jibhi Valley Tourism Development Association president Lalit Kumar said they will follow government SOPs but have made them stricter but easier so that the disease does not spread in the local community.
“We live in a rural area where all residents are directly or indirectly benefitting from tourism. We have taken this decision after long discussion and serious consideration. We shall make sure that only genuine tourists who fulfill our conditions reach here,” he said.
The labourers brought to Kullu from other states for work in apple season have already resulted in a sharp spike in cases in the district. Local panchayats had also been opposing the opening of the hotels. The hoteliers in Kullu-Manali had made it clear that they shall remain close until the situation improves.
Both Jibhi and Tirthan have emerged as one of the top tourist destinations where tourists go for long stays. This has resulted in the mushrooming of many tourism units in both regions in recent years. Although many villagers are still not in favour of inviting tourists, the hoteliers have assured them of the utmost care to prevent spread of the virus.
Tirthan Conservation and Tourism Development Association president Varun Bharti said they are facing opposition from some people but they have to go ahead as the disease may last for many more months.
“Our conditions are clear and will definitely filter the contaminated tourists. “Besides minimum 10 days’ booking, tourists need to come by their own vehicle. Nobody will accept a booking from walk-in tourists. Hotels will run on maximum of 50 percent occupancy.”
“Tourists will have to stay in hotel premises for the first five days. However, they can go fishing after the third day but cannot enter the waters. They can go sightseeing from the sixth day onwards but the company of a local guide is a must. Hotel staff will also have to stay in a hotel with no contact with the local community,” he said.
Meanwhile, hoteliers in Manali will hold a meeting soon to decide on the opening of the properties for hotels. While some are still opposing allowing tourists to visit Manali, others are in favour of resuming the operations. Hoteliers in Jibhi and Tirthan valley had earlier decided to resume operations from September 1 but later fixed the date at September 5.