Dehradun, July 31: The June flood disaster in Uttarakhand has badly hit the tourism, the largest employment providing sector in the hill state, causing a steep fall of 85 per cent in tourist traffic.
While the 'char dhams' may take years to recover from the damages caused by the natural calamity, even places like Mussoorie and Nainital that did not have to bear the brunt of the disaster have witnessed a steep decline of 75 per cent in tourist traffic post the June floods with fear-stricken visitors cancelling their trips to these tourist hotspots, says a study by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF).
Hotels in Mussoorie and Nainital generally see 100 per cent occupancy during this time of the year but it has dropped to less than 20 per cent, ASSOCHAM secretary general D S Rawat says in his paper that forms part of the study.
Corbett National park is no different as it is witnessing a similar crisis, said Rawat.
According to the study, there has been a sharp fall of 85 per cent in tourism business in Uttrakhand.
Though Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts were the worst-hit, adjacent districts and the state as a whole suffered destruction of unprecedented magnitude in the calamity, it says.
People who make a living out of tourism in Uttarakhand are the most suffered lot and are beginning to migrate to other states to start all over again.
Rawat said the report has been prepared on the basis of feedback provided by an ASSOCHAM team that visited affected areas in three districts.
Agricultural land of small and marginal farmers in 156 villages across the hill districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Pauri, Tehri and Bageshwar was destroyed by the June calamity.
The hill state has seen migration of marginal farmers in the last couple of months amid dwindling returns, but the circumstances this year might trigger an exodus, Rawat said.
Every year, 23 to 24 lakh pilgrims arrive in the state for the Char Dham Yatra -- Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. But this year's disaster has hit tourism badly,as tourists are opting for "safer places" like Rajasthan, Goa, Kashmir and even Kerala to spend their holidays, the study says.
Destinations like Jaipur, Agra, Udaipur and Mount Abu have benefited the most with travellers making last minute bookings post shifting of their holiday plans.
Floods in Uttarakhand have not only destroyed tourist infrastructure like hotels, bed and breakfast inns and restaurants but given a blow to tourism, pushing the sector backwards by at least five years, added Rawat.
Tourism sector would also witness a direct employment loss of about 1,80,000 people becoming unemployed for 6 months in the current year, according to the ASSOCHAM study.
The sector would lose Rs 4,170 crore per year.