Despite restrictions, tourists throng Pondy for New Year celebrations

The police have erected barricades on the beach promenade to regulate the entry of visitors and tourists on New Year’s eve on Thursday   | Photo Credit: KUMAR SS

A ban on New Year celebrations in hotels and restrictions imposed on the beach promenade due to COVID-19, has not deterred a large number of domestic tourists from travelling to Puducherry to celebrate New Year’s.

A majority of the large and mid-sized hotels have around 90% occupancy with some of them even full, as tourists from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have flocked to celebrate the New Year.

Hotels full

“With all the controversies and confusion, we expected not many tourists would come, but most hotels have reasonably good occupancy. The guests are a bit disappointed about the lack of events or activities in the hotel. We have clearly told occupants that there will be no celebrations,” said Anand Gandhiraj, treasurer of the Hotels Association of Pondicherry. The association has around 25 medium and large-sized hotels with around 1,500 rooms under it.

According to Mr. Gandhiraj, tourists arrival started a day prior to Christmas. “In fact, most hotels were crowded for three days due to the weekend along with the Christmas holiday. But rooms have gone at a discounted rate during this festival unlike previous years, when they were at premium rates,” he said. December and January are the months the hospitality industry gets maximum business, he noted.

V. Ramachandran, owner of Jayaram, said, “The impact of COVID-19 is still there. In previous years, we used to get foreign tourists in large numbers, but this time it is only domestic tourists.”

Chief Executive Officer of TGI Group of Hotels, Amitava Roy, said since there are no events on New Year day, the hotels are concentrating on special food items. “People wanted to rewind after months of work from home and there were enquiries about entertainment but hotels have strictly followed the government order banning events” he said.

Front officer of Ananda Inn, Hirak Mahapatra, said they have almost 90% occupancy. “Since the restaurant is small and social distancing could not be ensured, we have converted the banquet hall for serving food. All the guests were screened using thermal scanners before they were allotted rooms,” he said.

Beach promenade crowded

Tourists started arriving from Wednesday evening itself and the beach promenade came alive on Thursday morning. “It is for public good that the government has imposed restrictions and there is nothing wrong in banning celebrations. We are planning to spend the day out and get back to the hotel by evening to have dinner,” Raghavendra, a tourist from Bengaluru, said.

Senior Superintendent of Police Rahul Alwal told The Hindu that they have started screening people using thermal scanners at the border areas for COVID-19 symptoms from Thursday morning.

Deployment of police personnel for regulations and security in the White Town area started by noon. Around 1,000 personnel would be deployed in the White Town, including on the beach promenade. Another 2,000 policemen will be on duty till late night to ensure COVID-19 protocols are followed and for peaceful New Year celebrations.

According to a police officer, drones would be used for crowd management on the beach. The police have also established a desk near Gandhi Thidal and ADGP office complex to assist people to locate missing persons.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 11:12:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/despite-restrictions-tourists-throng-pondy-for-new-year-celebrations/article33461752.ece

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