The hitting of the worldwide pandemic-Covid-19 has entirely disrupted our traditional course of living, further, introducing us to a ‘new normal’. As we are adapting to a new mode of living, even, work-from-home takes on a different meaning as people move their workstations to the hills.
With Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh reopening its borders, professionals are beating a hasty retreat across the monotony and heat of the cities with their families, laptops and a COVID-19 negative certificate. Praveen Nagpal, who runs six cottages as part of Banlekhi resorts in Uttarakhand’s Mukteshwar, says, “It’s a win-win situation for guests as well as for the plummeting tourism business in the hills. While people get to spend their working summer in a relaxed environment, we get a steady source of income since tourism as it were, is passe.”
According to indianexpress.com, Nagpal also gave access to his two-room bungalow in Himachal’s Solan for those who want to stay put and work. He further adds that he and his industry peers are now looking to run their properties as paying guest facilities, at a stipulated monthly rent, fully equipped with a study table, good WiFi and a running kitchen. “We won’t entertain anyone who wants to come here for less than seven days; we are getting enquiries mainly from Delhi, Gurugram, Chandigarh and Noida. In fact, day before, a corporate office in Gurugram asked if 15 staff members could be accommodated for a month, with their families, at a discounted rate. We are happy to cater to such requests.”
While some hoteliers are fidgety about catering to quarantine tourism at discounted rates, there are those who are ready to go for the move. Dharamveer Singh Chouhan Co-founder & CEO, Zostel, which runs eight properties across two states in Manali, Dalhousie, McLeodganj, Rishikesh and Mukteshwar, says that even though they are closed at the moment, he has 15-20 enquiries daily for future bookings added to his kitty. He has chalked out plans for 15-21-30 day packages at discounted rates. “People can cut down on their house rent and other kitchen and household bills, and can work, chill and live out of a beautiful place. We are also offering workstations and good WiFi, while there are no time-consuming responsibilities such as cleaning or managing groceries,” says Chouhan.
For many, it’s a chance unmissable because they are getting to be with their families, spend the entire summer in the hills, and not skip work. So they are doing whatever it takes to work from the hills. Gautam Mishra, a data analyst from New Delhi, says “I am travelling to Uttarakhand with my family next week. Currently, their rule says that I should travel with a RT-PCR certificate, which absolves me of their quarantine and minimum stay regulations,” he says. With a COVID-19 tested negative report in hand, the family plans to spend a vacation in the hills for a month. Mishra and his wife will continue to WFH, while their children will continue with their online classes from a resort in Binsar.
According to an unofficial estimate by the hoteliers association in Uttarakhand, more than 8,000 visitors have crossed into Uttarakhand in the past one week from various states. Whereas, an informal estimate by the Himachal Pradesh Hoteliers Association puts the number of outsiders staying over in the state to about 6,500.