BHUBANESWAR: As all roads lead to Puri, the hospitality sector is making a killing out of this year’s Rath Yatra. ‘No discounts please’ appears to have become the standard greeting at hotels across the Pilgrim Town as the beeline starts for Saturday.
Riding on the unprecedented hype surrounding the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra, almost all star hotels have been politely returning new booking requests since most rooms are reserved from July 17 to 19.
Medium and small hotels have been raking in the moolah as the clamour for budget accommodation is high. Many of the hotels are even blocking the rooms to create an artificial scarcity so that the demand would soar in next two days and they can make the most of this period of the year. As a result, the rates have jumped two to three times in medium range hotels.
While a steady stream of tourists has been arriving in Puri, the rate will pick up from Friday afternoon and reach a peak on Saturday morning.
There are about 430 hotels in the holy town which can officially accommodate about 40,000 tourists. Most hotels offer discounts during the off-peak seasons, some even go in for special packages during the peak tourist seasons. However, Rath Yatra is no time for such generosity.
“Since the demand is huge and we are booked well in advance, we are not offering any discount during this period,” said the General Manager of a star hotel which is located both in Bhubaneswar and Puri.
Taking advantage of the demand, even dharmasalas and guest houses have hiked their rates in the holy town.
However, the Puri district administration says it is keeping an eye on hotels charging excessive tariff. “Since most hotels have been refusing discounts which they normally offer, it is being seen as hiked tariff. We have been test-checking bookings on a regular basis,” Tourist Officer of Puri Bijay Kumar Jena said.
Hotel and Restaurants Association of Odisha (HRAO) says tariff of reputed hotels remains unchanged since the prices are announced on an annual basis. “We have been working in close coordination with the administration to ensure that tourists are not fleeced,” said executive committee member of HRAO Raj Kishore Patra, who is also the MD of Holiday Resorts.