Making its biggest comeback, the tourism industry has created a record of sorts in the past 10 days bringing cheers to the hoteliers, traders, and tourism stakeholders in Himachal Pradesh, a state having suffered a blow due to lockdown and pandemic. The data released by the Shimla police on Monday reveals that a record 1.41 lakh tourist vehicles arrived in the state’s capital Shimla, also known as “Queen of hills”.
While the highest number of tourist vehicles –a total of 18,000 mainly from Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and UP had reached on December 31–for New Year celebrations and the number was no less approximately 15,000 on January 1, 2021, due to snowfall forecast. Reports said most other places especially Kullu-Manali, where Rohtang Tunnel has become the biggest attraction, Dharamshala –McLeodganj, Dalhousie, Khajjiar, and some other destinations like Kasauli and Chail have also remained jam-packed.
Sanjay Sood, president of Shimla Hotel and Restaurants Association said “last over a week has gone very well due to a maximum number of tourists visiting Shimla and also rest of hill destinations. The feedback from the members is very encouraging though no New year parties were held owing to the night curfew and other Covid restrictions. Most hotels have remained packed after December 25 till now”.
Broadly, the tourism officials estimate more than five lakh tourists having visited Shimla between December 25 and January 4, 2021. This has broken a 20-year-record of the tourists’ arrivals. In Manali, some of the tourists who came without advance booking had to face a tough task to find a hotel, and those venturing to Rohtang Tunnel without adhering to the police advisories about the snow and inclement weather had to face the long ordeal of traffic jams and slippery roads. On Monday, the Rohtang Tunnel was closed for the tourists on the North portal due to heavy snow and freezing cold in the Lahaul Spiti.
The police on both sides have told the tourists not to risk their journeys till clearance of the Highway and the road connecting the Tunnel. Meanwhile, Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu has written a letter to SPs of Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti asking them that all personnel deployed at Rohtang Tunnel should not transgress the boundaries set by the law in dealing with those trying to create hooliganism and resorting to violation of the traffic norms inside the tunnel.