Christmas and New Year’s Eve are around the corner but the celebratory mood, sparkling lights that brighten up the markets and swarm of tourists are missing in Nainital as the coronavirus pandemic has kept most people confined to their homes.

According to local hotel and restaurant bodies, the farmers camping at Delhi borders to demand the repeal of the Centre’s agriculture reform laws has also deterred people from the national capital and neighbouring areas from travelling.

Though both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Friday this time, making them extended weekends, the business has been slow for hotels in the popular hill station.

“This year, hotels received little to almost no bookings for New Year’s due to coronavirus. Similarly, only a few bookings were made for Christmas,” said Dinesh Shah, president of Nainital Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Normally, people make bookings for Christmas and New Year’s months in advance, he said.

Alok Shah, PRO of Nainital Hotel and Restaurant Association, said, “Due to the farmers’ protest, people from Delhi and nearby areas are avoiding travel. Coronavirus testing at (Nainital’s) entry point is another deterrent for tourists.” This has not only made the occasion less cheery but also impacted Nainital’s economy, he said.

Hoteliers reminisced about previous years when Christmas and New Year’s drew domestic and international tourists in large numbers.

Often ‘No Entry’ signs had to be put up at various places. Hotels used to host various functions every year to entertain the visitors, they said.

“This year there will be no special programmes since the hotel has not received many bookings due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Naresh Gupta, manager of Hotel Manu Maharani.

Traders associations said the Mall Road will not be decorated with fancy lights this time.

The usual fanfare associated with the annual Winter Carnival will also be missing this year.

“While the tradition of Winter Carnival will continue, it will be limited to marathons and a few competitions,” said Shah, president of the Nainital Hotel and Restaurant Association.

As of December 15, Uttarakhand had recorded 83,502 Covid-19 cases, including 1,372 deaths, according to official data.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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