Even as Dharamsala - a small hill town nestled in picturesque Kangra valley with mighty Dhauladhar in the backdrop - is gearing up to host two Indian domestic league matches, the usual festivities around the event in preceding year is missing this time.
The streets of Dharamsala town, which earlier used to be full of promotional hoardings and decorative lights around this time of the year, is giving a dull look hinting that the T20 tournament has lost its charm among the locals.
The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and Kings XI Punjab - the host team - has not yet started its branding activities with only four days left for the first match of this season at Dharamsala ground.
On the other hand, the response from the residents of the town has been lackluster as over the year the event which was propagated as boost for tourism industry in the region has become problematic for the locals as their movement is restricted for full one week.
Local hoteliers in Dharamsala now feel that the Indian domestic league matches has affected the tourism in the hill town and surrounding areas badly.
“Earlier, we used to think that Indian domestic league matches will bring us huge business, but actually it is the other way around. This has affected the hospitality industry badly as the city is too small to host such events,” says Milap Nehria, an hotelier in Bhagsunag area of the town.
Giving reasons, Nehria said, “A huge crowd of over 20,000 comes to see the T20 tournament matches at the small town, but the facilities are negligible as the hotels here could accommodate only around 3,000 people at a time.”
“This leads to the collapse of the entire civic system of the town,” he said, adding that in this mess it is genuine tourists who suffer a lot and never think of visiting the town again.
Another hotelier and president of the trekkers' association, Rashpal Pathania, said, “As May is the peak season of tourism a lot of tourists who are not interested in cricket visit the town around this time and are caught in this mess.”
“As a layman, I also feel that there are a few locals who are interested in this even as it only adds to their problem. You are forced to park your vehicles around 5 to 7 km away from the spot and traffic jams are usual,” Pathania added.
He further said the hoteliers in the town charge three times more than the normal charges and the genuine tourists also become the victim.
“We are not against the cricket matches, but there must be proper facilities according to the event,” said Vipin Kumar, a local resident.