The queen of hills, Shimla, is seeing a huge tourist influx as the strike by the operators has people making a beeline to it.
Shimla Hoteliers and Restaurant Association president Harnam Kukreja confirmed that the rush to Shimla and adjoining areas has been greatly aided by tourists junking Manali due to the strike by operators.
“Hotels are almost completely full. As it is, on weekends in summers there is a huge rush in our city,” he said.
Himalayan Package Tours manager Babu Ram also claimed that enquiries on Manali had dropped considerably and cancellations were rising as taxis were not being allowed to operate in Manali.
“There is a silver-lining though. Those who are already in Shimla are extending their stay. In a sense, Manali’s loss is Shimla’s gain,” he added.
Travel agency Rohtang Travels executive Deepak Rana said, “The travel packages that we were offering had stay at both Shimla and Manali as the attraction, but with most tourists pushing out the Manali leg of the tour, we have to suffer a loss on the package charges.” He added that some tourists had cancelled their bookings only for the time-being, some were shifting to other locations like Dharamsala and Dalhousie.
“Two of my taxis that had taken tourists to Manali are stranded there. We want to come back as soon as possible,” says Sonu, of Sonu taxi service. Meanwhile, Angry tourists staged a protest on Saturday morning and blocked the traffic for nearly half an hour in the hill resort of Manali, as taxi operators continued their strike on the fifth day.
This forced the local administration to provide more buses for transportation to calm down the protesting tourists.