Shimla: Putting back public miseries and scary images of buildings, bridges and National Highways collapsing due to landslides and relentless rains, Himachal Pradesh is preparing to open its doors to the holiday makers, after tourism business suffered a massive blow.
With Delhi getting ready to host the G20 summit, slated to be held September 9-10 with top world leaders expected to start arriving from September 7, a lot of people from Delhi are making inquiries for escaping this period to the hills.
Top hoteliers in Shimla and some other towns at Dharamshala and Kullu-Manali have confirmed that they have got inquiries about road conditions and concessions being extended to the tourists to send a message of revival of the tourism industry.
State’s director tourism Amit kashyap informed here on Wednesday that tourists can avail discount, in the current season in most of the hotels in the state as well.
“The tourism sector is one of the major contributors in the State Gross Domestic Product (SGDP) of the hill state, which accounts to seven percent and also contributes around 14.42 percent direct and indirect employment to the total employment in the state. We are ready to welcome the guests” he says.
After massive destruction caused to Kalka-Shimla National Highway and newly built Kiratpur- Manali four-lane due to massive rains, landslides, floods and cloud-bursts , the tourists were scared to visit Shimla and other destinations after horrifying visuals of the buildings collapsing at hill slopes.
Kalka-Shimla national Highway, a lifeline to Shimla had also remained disrupted due to a major landslide at Chakki Mod evening disrupting essential supplies to Shimla for some days last month.
But, the Janamasthmi festival and G20 event in Delhi has come as a pleasant surprise for the hotel industry as a lot of people in Delhi want to skip the restrictions imposed due to the Summit.
“It looks like we will get confined to homes during the Summit days, better we come to the hills and spend time in the cool environment as rains have stopped and road connectivity is also restored” a caller Pankaj Grover informed a Shimla hotelier on Wednesday.
Prince Kukreja, a hotelier and office-bearer of Shimla Hoteliers Association said “ we expect some more inquiries or even walk-ins in the next two or three days .At least, it’s good that G20 will be a good trigger for revival of the industry. Otherwise, many hoteliers were finding it difficult to meet salaries, bills of the staff and other operational charges”.
Another hotelier said he has suffered a loss of Rs 7 to 7.50 lakhs after the monsoon started causing floods and disruptions. “ It was period worst that Covid” he says.
The hoteliers in Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj are also hoping for new arrivals while Manali hoteliers are keeping fingers crossed as this was one destination which has suffered unprecedented destruction.
State’s Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, who was at Hamirpur, his home town, said ” The travel routes connecting tourists’ destinations have been substantially restored and it is now safe enough to travel to Himachal. We assure full safety to the tourists planning to come this week- end.”
The Chief Minister said that Himachal Pradesh was fully safe for the visitors and they were welcome to Chamba, Kangra, Shimla, Solan etc besides other parts of the State, as the roads have been repaired.
The private hoteliers and also HPTDC has already announced heavy discounts. It is a good thing that the G20 was being held in India at New Delhi.
Dr Vijayshree Sharma, an entrepreneur in Delhi says she will take a break from work to visit hills. Afterall nobody has left Shimla. The people are living there and they are safe too. No one should feel so scared as weather related events keep happening .The tourists should follow the advisories to be careful.
Mohinder Seth, president of Shimla Hotels Association, informs that the hotel industry has been making efforts to inform people elsewhere including Delhi that all tourists’ destinations are open and arrivals will come.
Amit Kashyap, Director (Tourism) informed here that the tourists can now visit Kasauli, Shimla, Chail, Narkanda and Kinnaur as the roads to these destinations are open and safe to travel. Besides, Dharamshala, Mcleodganj, Palampur, Dalhousie, Khajjiar and Chamba are also open to commuters.
The daily flights of Alliance Air from Delhi to Shimla and further Shimla to Dharamshala (Kangra airport at Gaggal) are also available, said Kashyap and adding that the subsidy on the fare for all the seats from Shimla-Dharamshala-Shimla is being borne by the State Government and total fare on route has been fixed at Rs. 3000/- plus taxes.
Kashyap said that to facilitate the visitors, helicopter service was also being operated by M/s Pawan Hans Ltd. From Chandigarh to Shimla and further from Shimla to Rampur, Kullu, Mandi and Dharamshala under UDAN scheme, he said.