The palaces and forts await footsteps. Their beauty and and luxury, await admiration. The Jantar Mantar awaits curious crowd eager to understand methods of time calculation. The windows of Hawa Mahal await giggly tourists. The Albert Hall awaits the retun of young selfie-clicking couples. The Jal Mahal awaits noisy individuals who gather there and chat their hearts out. The Pink City, one of the most important tourism hubs of India awaits the return of tourism. Its architectural wonders now stand in a state of neglect, infested with pigeons.
“Our sales and profits depend upon the tourist footfall in the city. But due to the updated Covid-19 guidelines, there are hardly any tourists spotted in the city. Now, even after the store is open and we are paying off other expenses like electricity bill, labour charges and rent, we are hardly earning anything which can cover these expenses,” said Mahendra, owner of Khagol Leather Crafts in Badi Chaupad.
A couple in a Jaipur mahal
Rajasthan which is mostly a tourism driven state, has taken a bad hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research states there has been a 70 per cent decline in tourists visiting the state over last two years.
“After almost two years of the pandemic, the market was getting back to normal. From December 15 till January 2 the market was good as we were able to earn something. But after that, the situation has been bad as there are hardly any tourists,” said Banwari, manager at Mangalam Sarees, a 70-year-old shop near Hawa Mahal.
Another shop owner, Danish said, “Till January 2 there was work, but now earning Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 a day has become difficult. And adding to this, my shop is rented and I have to pay a monthly rent of Rs 50,000. There aren’t any tourists now and as the weekend curfew is imposed, there aren’t any local customers around as well.”
A tourist passing by a shop
Shailendra Singh, a senior tourist guide at the City Palace Jaipur said, “The tourism business isn’t doing good since the pandemic. The community of tourist guides in the city is suffering a lot as our daily earnings have been affected a lot. We hardly get any clients these days. The locals also think twice before purchasing an entry ticket to the city palace. Due to the pandemic, the palace authority has increased the entry fee and the city has a lot of other tourist hotspots to go.” He said, many tourist guides have even switched jobs to survive.
A tourist guide at his work.
Talking about the price hike in the entry fees of the city palace, a tourist from Kerala said, “Our group skipped the tour of the City Palace as the per-person cost is Rs 300. We explored other tourists destinations by buying a composite ticket, which is valid for 2 days and covers six locations at the same price.”
“Earlier, we planned for a weekend getaway from Delhi. Then in Jaipur, the weekend curfew was announced, so we postponed our trip. The best part about Jaipur is that it offers a lot of places to visit in a single city — the Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Galta Ji Temple and soon,” said Rekha, a tourist.