Photographers at the Gateway of India in Mumbai are among the people affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic as the number of tourists coming to the place has declined due to the restrictions imposed by the authorities.
Belonging to the unorganised sector, their daily income depends on tourists, who often get themselves pictured alongside the arch-monument.
With bare minimum influx of outsiders to the city, due to the pandemic and the restrictions imposed to combat the virus, the photographers at the historic monument are struggling to stay afloat.
Manoj, a photographer at the monument told ANI that their earnings right now “are nothing” compared to what it was before the onset of the pandemic.
“With the COVID-19 relaxations that we got between October 2020 and January 2021, our income started coming back to normal. Had it continued for at least six months, we would have recovered our income for the first lockdown,” he said.
According to him, there are about 400 photographers at the Gateway of India and Taj Hotel at Colaba. However, less than 100 photographers are left now in the vicinity. Most of them have either shifted to their native places or taken up other kinds of work including labour at construction sites, vegetable and fruit vendors.
On questioning how the government is supporting them, he said, “The government is only taking care of its servants.” They feel that several measures announced by governments are not benefiting them because they belong to the unorganised sector which is still far away from getting benefits of government schemes.
Another photographer, Varun put forth a similar ordeal of his struggle to earn. The tourists have significantly dropped after the pandemic, gravely impacting his income.
“Earlier, in a single day we used to have 500-700 customers. Now we have 150 customers. On some days, there are zero customers,” he said adding that “being able to afford food seems enough right now.”
Varun further said, “People from outside are not coming right now. There are local tourists only.”
Even in such a situation, they are hopeful that in the coming days, the situation will get better and they will again be able to live happily after tourism returns to normal in Mumbai.