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Hotels in Fani-ravaged Puri wait for booking calls

Business in Bengalis’ favourite beach destination goes dry without water & electricity

Hotels in Fani-ravaged Puri wait for booking calls

Kolkata: Tour operators in Puri are keeping their fingers crossed as uncertainty looms large over hotel booking during Durga Puja. Tourists usually start making inquiring about hotels much before the Pujas but, this year, such inquires have not come yet. The all-time favourite beach destination of Bengalis was badly affected by the cyclonic storm Fani that hit the Puri coastline on May 3.

"There was virtually zero booking in May. The hotels located close to the beach has been the worst affected. There was neither water supply nor electricity services in the entire month of May. Water and electricity supply were restored in the beginning of June but the ordeal of power cut is still on. It will take at least two to three months to overcome the extent of damage caused by Fani," said Sanjoy Bose, proprietor of Hallmark Travel Wing, who is associated with booking of nearly a dozen hotels in Puri.

The air conditioning facilities in almost all the hotels have been damaged and it would take at least another two months for things to fall in place.

"Even during May-June, 80 percent of the hotel rooms are occupied but people look for air conditioning facilities as the temperature here is very high during these months. We are unable to provide AC rooms. So, booking in June has been very feeble," said a senior official of Das Travels who is associated with nearly a dozen hotels in Puri. The glass windows, the furniture, interior and exterior decoration have also bore the brunt of the cyclonic storm and majority of hotels have undertaken massive restoration work.

The Rathyatra festival in July draws the maximum number of tourists to Puri but the tour operators have received queries far below expectations till now.

"People are still sceptical about the situation in Puri. Rathyatra queries are coming but bookings are a few till date. We are hopeful that bookings for Puja will pick up after Rathyatra," said Shekhar Nath of Tara Tirtha Special, who is associated with 10 hotels in Puri.

Nath said visitors from the city are not bookings hotels in Puri. "We are suggesting the visitors to find out the situation there and then book hotels," he said.

There are nearly 2,000 hotels in Puri and 497 of them are listed online.

"In May and June, the business has been nil and the destruction by cyclone Fani has hit hotel business here because such establishments are bearing huge expenses on the restoration. We will take some time to recover. But we hope that the ball will start rolling from the Puja," said Kamal Kumar Rout, GM of Golden Tree Boutique Hotel.

The hotel that has stepped into its third year had 70 percent occupancy even in summer. "We have 30 rooms and 18 have been restored," Rout said.

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