The hotel bookings in Manli have witnessed a sharp decline ever since the taxi-operators went on strike here. Not only that, people are cancelling bookings after enquiring about the situation.
The tourism industry is bearing the brunt of the taxi operators' strike, which entered sixth day on Sunday. Tourists in Manali are facing problems in finding transporation for sightseeing, while hoteliers are facing decline in bookings.
The already sluggish tourism industry of Kullu-Manali had started looking up after a tough winter season due to heavy snowfall. The industry was expecting a good summer season when the order of the National Green Tribunal gave way to widespread protests, hitting the industry hard.
This time it was a better opportunity for the district's tourism industry to flourish since the summers in the plains are hotter than normal and more and more people were planning to take refuge in the hills.
BJP backs taxi-operators
On Sunday, BJP workers staged a protest in Manali town under the leadership of local MLA Govind Thakur against state government. BJP MP from Mandi Ram Swaroop Sharma also took part in the protest.
MLA Govind Thakur alleged that the state government was responsible for the current situation. He said the state government was reluctant to raise the issue of Rohtang Pass with the National Green Tribunal, which imposed heavy cess on tourist vehicles in the name of environment protection.
MP Ram Swaroop Sharma said state government was playing a mute spectator to the situation and doing nothing to help people, who had lost their source of livelihood. "It is the duty of the government to protect the rights of its citizens," he said.
"The BJP would launch street protests against the state government's failure and I would take up the matter with the Centre," Sharma said.
To ferry tourists towards Rohtang Pass from Manali town, the district administration arranged 34 buses of Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), accommodating about 2,200 tourists visited. Nearly 400 diesel and 83 petrol-run private vehicle too moved in the area.
Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said the taxi-operators were adamant on their demands. "The district administration is making its best efforts to facilitate the tourists," he said.