By: By Nachiket Kelkar

April 26, 2020: Ambarish Jha runs an ecotourism resort close to the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha, where the peak season is from October to March. The bookings had already been dropping because of the economic slowdown when the Covid-19 pandemic started. By March, there were no bookings at all.

Jha’s Estuarine Village Resort used to receive around 800 tourists during the season. This time, the numbers were less than 500. “Even if this pandemic stops by June, July or August, I do not think people will travel, as the economy will be impacted badly,” he says. “In such circumstances, travel will be the last thing on anybody’s priority list.”

For resort owners like Jha, even if there are no tourists, some of the expenses are unavoidable—be it the staff wages, general resort maintenance or bank EMIs. “I have six employees [at the resort]. With the business taking a hit, I may have to ask a few to leave,” he says.

Apart from the resort, Jha also runs a small travel agency. That business, too, has been hit. Having managed the resort for over nine years, Jha was looking at bigger opportunities in the resort business. He had been getting offers from those interested in taking over the resort. “Given the current situation, I do not think there will be any takers,” he says.

Big resort groups can always restructure their business, and temporarily or completely shut some of their properties. However, Jha cannot even think of a shut down. He can only wait and pray for the good times to return once again.