With rain devastating a major part of the scenic Kinnaur district, the Himachal Pradesh hospitality industry is worried about how reports of floods are affecting the state's Rs. 5,000 crore tourism industry.
Reports of floods in Kinnaur and neighbouring Uttarakhand have made the tourists apprehensive to go for a holiday in hills, even as the situation in other key tourist towns is absolutely normal.
Flood reports on national television channels have seemingly made the tourists wary of travelling to hill areas as nature's fury have led to a sudden drop in the tourist flow in the state.
Travellers to the hills abruptly cancelled their hotel booking across the key tourist towns in Shimla, Manali and Dharamsala.
“In the wake of flood reports pouring from Kinnaur and Uttarakhand, the tourist flow has dropped,” said Anup Thakur, president of the Manali Hotel and Restaurateurs Association.
“The situation is normal in Manali. All hoteliers have been asked to apprise the tourists about the real situation,” he said.
“The impact of floods reports is more in famous tourist destination Manali, which has witnessed a drop of 40% in the past one week. However, the hotel occupancy has now begun to increase,” district tourism development officer Meenu Ram Dhiman said.
So far, 3.23 lakh tourists have visited Manali this year, out of which 16,000 are only foreigners. Occupancy in hotels run by the Himachal Tourism has increased in the past five days. “Our hotel occupancy is 80%,” says managing director of the Himachal Tourism Corporation Subashish Panda.
“It is likely to increase to 90% by next week. We are getting more queries now,” he said, adding that guests in flood-ravaged Kinnaur have been offered to stay in nearby state tourism hotels.
There is hardly any impact on the tourism industry in Dharamsala.
“Dharamsala and other hill stations in the Kangra valley are chock-a-block as thousands of tourists are thronging the region every day. This year has been good for the business of the hospitality industry as compared to last year. As there are summer vacations in schools in neighboring states, the inflow of tourists has almost doubled this month. We are expecting the season to continue till July 5,” said founder president of the Travel and Trekker Association, Dharamsala, Prem Sagar.
“The hotels in Dharamsala are full to the capacity these days. Thousands of tourists are coming to the state every day. The trend has also changed this year as valley has become a favourite destination among domestic tourists and inflow of these tourists is quite high than preceding years,” said Ashwani Sharma, a hotelier in Bhagsunag.
Ricky Brown, a tourist from the US, says, the weather is quite pleasant in the valley, especially Dharamsala. “I was here for a week and was to visit other tourist destinations in the state. However, the weather here has made me to stay for some more days as unlike previous years, the monsoon is not so furious here,” she said.