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Monday, October 7, 2019

Religious tourism to boost hospitality industry


Religious tourism to boost hospitality industry

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur), October 6

Hoteliers of cities located in the vicinity of Dera Baba Nanak are all set to rake in a bonanza even as thousands of tourists are all set to arrive at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) when the corridor will be thrown open to the public on November 9.

Intense competition, high taxes and low occupancy rates had sounded the death knell of the hotel industry in the region. However, all this is bound to change after more than 15,000 pilgrims start arriving every day at the ICP from all parts of the country and even abroad.

There are reports that not only Dera Baba Nanak town, but the entire border district of Gurdaspur will benefit from religious tourism.

Amritsar, which has Golden temple, Durgiana temple, an airport and a railway junction, will be the main beneficiary as a majority of the pilgrims will make a stop-over in the city before proceeding to Kartarpur from the ICP through the corridor.

Gurdaspur and Batala will cater to devotees arriving from J&K and HP.

Amarjit Singh Grewal, who is supervising the ceremonies to be conducted in the run-up to the opening, said, “Once connectivity to the corridor has been established, premium hospitality is always going to be just one step behind. Spiritual destinations like Kartarpur will be in high demand throughout the year. Political situations will have a bare minimal bearing on visitors.”

All four main roads leading from Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Batala and Dera Baba Nanak to the ICP are on the verge of completion.

“These new highways will act as a catalyst for the hospitality industry to set up businesses near the ICP. The only thing is that they will have to get approval from the Dera Baba Nanak Developmental Authority. The hotel industry was floundering but fortunately a revival can be seen now with the influx of at least 15,000-20,000 devotees every day,” said Cabinet Minister and local MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. He claimed that he had already been approached by scores of hoteliers who were keen on stitching up local alliances.

“If hoteliers don’t establish actual businesses, they can open offices near the ICP where transport, discounts, incentives and other freebies can be offered,” said Romesh Mahajan, president, Gurdaspur District Hotel Association.

“Concepts like medical and wellness tourism have emerged lately in India and it will be safe to say that religious tourism too has also picked up. The corridor is all set to act as a catalyst in hastening this type of tourism,” said Grewal.

With such a huge daily influx of tourists, hoteliers are naturally viewing Kartarpur as their El Dorado.

“Kartarpur is being viewed as a place where one can encounter, see and experience the divine. Like thousands pay obeisance at the Golden Temple every day, the Kartarpur shrine too is expected to draw a lot of devotees. And hotels are the first thing that are needed if we have to cater to them,” he added.

Biz offices near ICP

If hoteliers do not establish actual businesses, they can open offices near the ICP, where transport, discounts, incentives and other freebies can be offered... Like thousands pay obeisance at the Golden Temple every day, the Kartarpur shrine too is expected to draw a lot of devotees. And hotels are the first thing that are needed if we have to cater to them. Romesh Mahajan, President, gurdaspur district hotel association

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