VISAKHAPATNAM: It’s a houseful in Araku, the region’s top winter tourist spot, as weekends bring cheer to hotels and resorts in the valley after the tourism sector suffered a setback as an immediate fallout of demonetisation.
Most private hotels and resorts, including A.P. Tourism’s accommodation facilities in Araku, Anantagiri, and Tyda, have recorded 100 per cent bookings for the second consecutive weekend, and are devising ways to attract tourists by introducing means for cashless transactions and other add-on facilities.
According to T.V. Sudarsana Rao, Divisional Manager, A.P. Tourism Development Corporation, there is 100 per cent occupancy in all its resorts in Araku Valley and Anantagiri with a good flow of tourists from West Bengal and Odisha.
“We experienced a partial impact on our food and beverage, and restaurant businesses due to demonetisation. But now, the situation has stabilised and tourists are coming well prepared for their stay. Since the room reservations are done online and well in advance, we didn’t see any impact there,” he told The Hindu.
According to him, in order to facilitate cashless transactions for tourists in Araku, Anantagiri, and Tyda, they have tied up with HDFC to introduce wireless card swiping machines at all the resorts. The facility will be operational in the next seven to 10 days.
Private hotel players say that the initial impact due to demonetisation has brought down their overall business by 30-40 per cent. There are over 40 private hotels and resorts in the valley, many of whom have now improved their online presence by tying up with online travel portals in order to offset the impact of demonetisation.
Hotel Krishna Tara Comforts in Araku, one of the medium segment hotels, has recently tied up with Oyo Rooms, Makemytrip, and Goibibo to boost its online bookings.
“We were totally sold out from Friday to Sunday this week and the business has been back in the weekends. Our online presence has improved the bookings from West Bengal this month,” said S. Umesh, hotel manager.
The hotel does not have facilities for card transactions, but it has been accepting the Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes for the convenience of its customers and to keep up the business.
S.M. Kulkarni, a tourist from Pune who made bookings at Vizag and Araku, said that since they were aware of the situation, they came prepared with lower denomination notes.
Many other smaller hotels in Araku are trying to make the most of the high demand over the weekends by hiking their room rates by 10-20 per cent.
Other travel startups like SK Eastern Ghats Camping have introduced camping and tent facilities at Eastern Ghats to draw adventure lovers and young tourists.
“We have already completed five camps in the past two weeks since we started,” said Rahul Chakravathy of the travel startup.
There are at least three to four more camping and barbeque set-ups that have been introduced in the valley to attract tourists.