Tirthan valley and Jibhi in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district has decided to open for tourists with strict conditions from September 5. The two areas are top destinations for long stays in Himachal.
It was decided by owners of hotels, guesthouses and homestays in Jibhi and Tirthan valleys that they will allow tourists to book accommodation from September 5 if the advance booking is made for a minimum of 10 days.
The tourists would need to carry a Covid-19 negative certificate, issued no more than 72 hours earlier. The visitors would have to confine themselves to the accommodation for the first five days but can go sightseeing for the remaining five days along with a local guide. Tirthan is even allowing visitors to go fishing from the third day. No visitors will be allowed to travel in taxis.
Many villagers in the two areas are still not in favor of allowing tourists, hoteliers have assured them of utmost care to prevent the spread of the virus. Jibhi Valley Tourism Development Association president Lalit Kumar said they will follow the state government SOPs but have changed them to make it easy for visitors and will also ensure the virus does not spread in the local community.
Tourists to stay for 10 days, come on their own vehicle
We live in a rural area where all residents directly or indirectly benefit from tourism. We have taken this decision after long discussions and serious consideration. We shall make sure that only genuine tourists, who fulfill our conditions, reach here,” said Jibhi Valley Tourism Development Association president Lalit Kumar Tirthan Conservation and Tourism Development Association president Varun Bharti said they are facing opposition from some locals but they have decided to go ahead. “Our conditions are clear and we will definitely filter contaminated tourists.
Besides a minimum of 10-day booking, tourists need to come by their own vehicles. Nobody will accept bookings from walk-in tourists. Hotels will run on a maximum of 50% occupancy. Tourists will have to stay in hotel premises for the first five days. However, they can go fishing after the third day but cannot enter the waters. They can go sightseeing from the sixth day onwards but the company of a local guide is a must. Hotel staff will also have to stay in hotels with no contact with the local community,” he said.
Migrant workers brought to Kullu from other states for the apple season have already added to the COVID-19 cases in the district. Local panchayats have been totally opposed to the opening of hotels and the hoteliers in Kullu-Manali had said earlier that they will remain shut till the situation improves. However, the Manali hoteliers will soon hold a meeting to decide on the opening of their properties for tourists.