Tourism in Himachal's Shimla booms amid festive season and weekends
The tourist inflow in Shimla has increased in recent weeks, bringing hope to the tourism industry, which was hit hard by floods and landslides earlier this year.
Bengali tourists, who typically visit Shimla during the Navratri festival have started arriving in the town.
Speaking to ANI, Priyanka Naskar, a tourist from Kolkata, expressed her happiness on arrival to Shimla. "It is good to be here. I am coming for the first time. We were in a state of fear that there were floods and rains that caused havoc here. But it is very good here and we are enjoying it. I would recommend everyone to come here and ask our Bengali people not to cancel their bookings, it is very good here. I wanted to come once to hills here and now I am happy to be here," said Priyanka Naskar, a tourist.
Pravir Haldar, a tourist from West Bengal lauded the Himachal Pradesh government's efforts to restore all roads.
"I have been coming here earlier but this year due to heavy rain and floods. However, we did not cancel our visit, there was a sense of fear, but now we are feeling safe. Both the Union and State governments have done good and restored all roads. The tourist destinations are safe and the roads are clear and I would recommend everyone to come here. For Bengali tourists, Shimla, Kali Bari temple, and hills are the best choice. We are feeling happy to be here, I am disappointed as I wanted to travel through the Tody train but it was cancelled," said Pravir Haldar, a tourist from West Bengal.
Weekend tourists from neighbouring states such as Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi are also flocking to Shimla.
Gurjeet Kaur, a tourist from Delhi, said that she was enjoying her time in the town.
"I am coming from Delhi, we thought it would be tough and roads would be closed but everything is normal after the floods here. We like coming on weekends as most of the people prefer coming on weekends. On weekends we have holidays and it is the right time to spend and enjoy the holidays," said Kaur.
Notably, due to Milad-un-Nabi/Eid-e-Milad and Gandhi Jayanti holidays accompanied by Saturday and Sunday off on the 28th, 29th, 30th, September and 1st, and 2nd of October have caused a rush among tourists to visit Shimla.
Mohinder Seth, President of the Himachal Pradesh Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Stakeholders Association, said that the tourist arrival has increased after the floods and that the industry is hopeful of good business ahead.
He raised concern over the illegally operated homestays and bed and breakfast (B & B) guest houses are becoming a threat to the hotel industry.
"The illegally operated homestays and bed and breakfast (B & B) guest houses are becoming a threat to the hotel industry. The tax imposed by the transport department on tempo travelers is 6000 rupees per entry is very high the travel agencies across the country are against it, if transports are paying taxes for all Indian tourist permits why there is a need to impose additional tax? We have received a letter from Gujarat, the travel and transport business units are planning to shift the tourists to Jammu and Kashmir," said Mohinder Seth.
Thousands of tourists annually visit Hill state, as per data available with the tourism department of Himachal Pradesh during the year 2019 nearly 1720000 tourists including nearly 400000 foreign tourists visited the state with a jump of nearly 5 per cent in comparison to the year 2018.
During the years 2021 to 2022, arrival decreased due to the pandemic and now again it has started increasing but rain and floods have hit it again. An economy of over 11000 crore is generated in the state of Himachal Pradesh in the tourism sector and it is considered a backbone for the economy in the state which contributes to 7.3 per cent of state GDP.
"Now this will affect the employment of lakhs of people in the state. This year till June over 1.6 crore tourists arrived in the state but after the rain and floods in July and August, tourism was badly hit in the region. Now the tourism business units are reviving business," added Seth.