Shimla, January 1
The state capital was buzzing as thousands of tourists flocked to Shimla to welcome the New Year, but hotel occupancy was around 80%, the lowest in four decades.
Snowfall in Manali, craze to see Atal Tunnel, the new gateway to Lahaul and Spiti, has boosted footfall in the Kullu district which has recorded over 90% occupancy, officials said. the hospitality industry.
Considering that no entry of passenger vehicles without reservation in the city of Shimla and apprehensions after last year’s New Year’s bomb hoax hit the crowds in Shimla, they said.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu strolled down Mall Road on New Year’s Eve on Saturday night.
He interacted with local residents and tourists and wished them a happy and prosperous year.
Large numbers of tourists were seen wandering Mall Road and Ridge to celebrate the New Year and police were deployed in force to ensure no untoward incidents occurred.
Hoteliers claim that even in the Covid years of 2020 and 2021, restrictions were lifted by the end of the year and Shimla saw 95-100% occupancy.
The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) has organized events to mark Christmas and New Year at prime properties in Shimla, Manali, Chail, Dharamshala and other locations and private hotels are also organizing events to welcome the New Year tourists.
As the New Year falls on a weekend this time around, we were expecting a huge rush, but so far occupancy is around 80%, which is the lowest of 37 to 38 years, said Vice President of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association, Prince Kukreja.
He said the snowfall in Manali and the craze for the Atal tunnel have attracted tourists to Manali. On top of that, the new Covid variant could also be a reason for low footfall here, he said.
There is a huge rush of vehicles on the roads and traffic jams are commonplace, but this rush has not turned into occupation and it looks like the illegal tourist units are having a blast, Kukreja said.
However, the chairman of the Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association, MK Seth, said a large number of online bookings have been canceled as the district administration has decided not to allow vehicles from tourism without hotel reservation in the city and the occupancy in the city of Shimla is around 80%, the lowest. over the past four decades.
District administration orders not to allow tourist vehicles without hotel reservations in Shimla town led to low visitor numbers as they planned to travel to destinations with fewer restrictions and more convenience , did he declare.
A lot of tourists from neighboring states come without reservations, Seth said.
The district administration, in a statement, had informed that tourists with confirmed hotel reservations would be allowed in the city while tourist vehicles without confirmed reservations would be parked at Tutikandi parking lot.
A shuttle service (HRTC bus service) would be available to the old city bus stop, Central Telegraph Office. Tourist buses and heavy vehicles would not be allowed in the city. In the event of heavy rainfall, vehicles would be diverted via the Tutikandi-Malyana road, officials said.
In the event of heavy motor traffic, vehicles would be staggered from Shoghi. The idea is to provide a safe and trouble-free stay for tourists and avoid traffic jams in the city, they added.
An additional police force has been deployed and the city has been divided into six sectors, Deputy Commissioner Shimla Aditya Negi said, adding that responsibility for overseeing each sector has been given to the magistrate and nodal police officers have also been deployed. in each sector to manage traffic and maintain public order.
Manali Hotel Association Chairman Mukesh Thakur says occupancy is over 90% here as the Atal (Rohtang) tunnel has increased tourist traffic in the twin districts of Lahaul and Spiti and Kullu, in addition to snowfall in Manali, is a major attraction.
Gondola lift in Solang, igloo stays in Hamta, winter sports activities in and around Manali, skiing and snowboarding lessons offered by Atal Bihari Vajpayee Mountaineering Institute and Manali Allied Sports are also major tourist attractions, he said.
However, he said the huge rush for vehicles is not being converted into room occupancy as a large number of people from out of state have taken up rental properties and are running accommodations as tourist units without registration.
These illegal properties offer discounted rooms, Thakur added.
Up to 1.39 crore tourists visited Himachal till November 30 this year, up from 56.37 lakhs last year, according to data provided by the tourism department which hoped to hit the influx figures of pre-Covid tourists by the end of the year, as December is the peak tourist season.
Tourism and related industry suffered immense losses during the Covid pandemic and tourist influx dropped by 81% in 2020 compared to 2019. Tourist arrival in Himachal Pradesh was 1, 72 crore in 2019, which collapsed to 32.13 lahks in 2020 and recovered slightly to 56.37 lahks in 2021.
With an increase in Covid cases around the world, the state health had issued an advisory to observe proper Covid behavior to control the increase in Covid cases in the near future.
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has ordered tourism and other departments to follow the slogan of “Atithi Devo Bhava”, facilitate tourists and make adequate arrangements and proper traffic plans in all districts for the traffic flow.
He also authorized the opening of restaurants in tourist places 24 hours a day.