After getting off to a slow start due to the unseasonal heavy rain throughout March and April, the summer tourism season in Kangra has picked up with visitors from the plains have begun arriving in the valley. The two months that experience very pleasant weather are considered the “peak season” for the hospitality industry in the Kangra valley and the adjoining district of Chamba. However, the freak weather across north India with continuous rain and hailstorms had dealt a blow to tourism in the region.
“After a bad start tourist arrivals are picking up and this has raised our hopes for a good season in the days ahead. More visitors are coming to the valley and the hospitality industry is expecting higher hotel occupancy rates,” said Ashwini Sharma, who runs a guest house in Bhagsunag near McLeodganj.
Tourism officials too have confirmed the season is coming back on track as hotels run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp in Dharamsala and adjoining areas recorded 80% occupancy during the last weekend. “Occupancy rates in private hotels too have gone and 100% occupancy is expected in days to come. The trend set in last week and points towards a good season,” said an official.
Relatively lower temperatures and the picturesque landscape make Kangra and Chamba valleys a preferred destination among domestic tourists, particularly from neighbouring states.
“Initially we have bookings from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. As the season progress the tourists from across the country are likely to throng the famous destinations in the region,” said Prem Sagar, a travel agent who also runs a hotel in Galu, the starting point of the trek to Triund in the Dhuladhar mountains.
The only bottleneck that people involved in the hospitality industry feel can hamper tourism in the valley during the peak season is poor air connectivity. “Though there are regular flights to Gaggal airport and aviation firms likely to increase the frequency but the only option most of the domestic tourists have to travel by road. However, the condition of all roads is bad,” said Sagar.
Meanwhile, for Dharamkot village, popularly known as the 'Tel Aviv of the Hills', it is time to rejoice and reap rich dividends as Israeli tourists have started arriving to the small hamlet- that is last in the foothills of the Dhauladhar range.
“Winters are always lean and free time for us to enjoy. Now they (Israelis) have starting arriving and season for us to make brisk business,” said Sunil Kumar who has pitched a tent in the shape of an Israeli restaurant in the midst of an uncultivated piece of land.
Meanwhile, Dalhousie, the famous tourist resort in the adjacent district of Chambam, too has witnessed an increased rush of tourists. “By mid-May Dalhousie and the adjoining tourist spot of Khajjiar will be abuzz with tourism activities,” a local hotelier said.