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puri: an increase in cases leads to cancellations of hotel reservations | Bhubaneswar News

Bhubaneswar: The sudden surge in Covid-19 cases and the closure of Jagannath Temple has led to large scale cancellation of hotel reservations in Puri. This also coincided with the refusal of many hotels to refund the amount of the reservation to tourists.
Occupancy at most hotels, which were teeming with tourists until a week ago, has dropped to around 25%. From December to January, hotels generally experience a peak of activity with around 80% occupancy.
“Our business was hit hard due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The predicted third wave has also started to wreak havoc on the hospitality industry. Although the government has not yet imposed any travel restrictions or lockdowns, tourists are scared and have started to cancel their reservations. Since Jagannath Temple will remain closed to devotees till January 31, tourists are not interested in visiting Puri now,” said Raj Kishore Patra, Secretary of Puri Hotel Association.
Yugabrata Kar, a tour operator and restaurateur, said tourists were being harassed by many hotels for canceling room reservations. “Some of my guests from Pune had booked five rooms in a hotel facing the sea. Suspicious of the Covid situation and following the closure of the Puri temple, they canceled the reservations. But the hotel is now refusing to refund the reservation amount,” Kar said.
However, the hotels said they had asked their customers to reschedule their travel plans. Many hotels point the finger at their booking terms and conditions and refuse to refund money in case of cancellation. But when making reservations, few hotels share cancellation fees with customers.
“We are asking customers to postpone their travel plans. It is difficult to refund the full booking amount because we charge the money at the cost of online payment gateway and as commission from third parties (online travel booking platforms),” said Debasis Kumar , vice president of the Puri Hotel Association.