This year though, the picture is quite different. As per hoteliers and tour operators, since the crisis of “sinking Joshimath” occurred, tourists have stopped coming to the picturesque locale. The once-bustling tourist location now wears a deserted look. After the Covid-induced financial crisis of 2020 and 2021, both Auli and Joshimath again stare at major losses during the peak winter tourism season (December 15 to February 15).
Ajay Bhatt, who owns hotels and cottages in Joshimath and Auli, told TOI, “We are staring at losses worth crores. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction since December 15 but after the Joshimath issue came to light, we haven’t received a single enquiry. Only a handful of tourists, who have either booked flights or hotel rooms on the (Joshimath-Auli) route in advance are coming here.”
Many of the hotels and homestays in Joshimath have been taken up by the administration for rehabilitation of residents whose houses have developed large cracks and have been declared “unsafe”. Some are being demolished.
Earlier, getting a ticket for a ropeway and a chair lift from Joshimath to Auli, both operated by the state-owned Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam from 9:15am to 4:45pm, was considered lucky. While the ropeway has a capacity of 500 tourists per day, the chair lift can take around 1,500 to 1,700 visitors to Auli each day. The ropeway has now been closed, after a crack appeared in a pillar. The chair lift is operational but has few takers.
Tour operators, who usually start preparing for the Badrinath yatra in February, for which Joshimath is the last stop, worry that the scenario will prevail till May, when the annual pilgrimage usually starts.
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