COVID-19: Foreign tourists desert Paharganj

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New Delhi: Tourists wear masks to protect themselves from air pollution as toxic haze continues to engulf the national capital, on Nov 13, 2019. The Delhi air quality index (AQI) is at emergency levels again on Wednesday with an overall count of 476 and not much relief is expected for the next two days till Friday. While overall AQI is in the severe category, PM10 count is at 489 and PM2.5 at 326 is also in the severe category. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi:  Delhi’s popular backpacker district of Paharganj is also feeling the heat of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has spread to 122 countries and the number ofdead has crossed 4,000 across the world.

In India, 73 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, even as its effects are also being seen in Delhi as tourists are avoiding the cheap tourist hub of Paharganj due to which travel agencies and hotels are badly hit.

Dnyaneshwar, who works in tourism industry, told IANS: “My job is dependent on the entire tourist trade and due to the coronavirus, foreign tourists seem to have stopped coming. Visas are being denied and our market is for tourists and buyers, there are hotels here, shops where a lot of import-export is done.”

Anand Pal, who is the manager of Hotel Arjun, said: “Because of coronavirus, there has been a big effect on the hotel industry. Many people who came from Italy, China, France, have stopped coming for fear of coronavirus.”

He further said that if the current situation continues, “then we will be forced out on the streets.”

There are two trade associations in Paharganj area – Paharganj Shopkeepers Welfare Association and the other Main Market Bazar Mandal, Paharganj who have told shops and hotels in Paharganj to welcome tourists with a ‘namaste’ joining hands and use sanitisers and masks.

There are about 4,000 to 5,000 shops in Paharganj, including hotels, tour and travel agency, food shops, and handicrafts. Due to the scare, all these shops have been affected.

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