There is a drop in number of foreign tourists visiting Manali and other parts of Kullu district this year compared to last year. Mostly the tourists from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavian countries visit Manali.
As per details available in the office of district tourism development office, as many as 119,341 foreign nationals had visited Kullu district in 2013, while this year 14,341 tourists have visited Kullu district till March 2014.
But according to district police chief Surendra Verma, as per the figures based on the deposit of C Forms, as many as 5,35,3 foreign tourists visited Kullu district this year till June 30 last, while 10,362 foreigners had visited the Valley last year.
Keeping in view the varying figures available at the tourism department office and the police department, it appears that C Forms depicting the stay of most foreign tourists in the Valley most probably might not have been deposited in respective police stations by the tourists.
Obviously, the number of foreign tourists visiting Manali last year was high. "The decline in the influx of foreign visitors has been caused due to slump in economy in European countries since last year," said Kuram Dutt, managing director of Tiger's Eye Tour Travels, while talking to HT.
Dutt said that most of the private companies in Europe had retrenched their employees leading to increase in unemployment amongst the youth. He added that there was a drop of 40% in number of foreign tourists visiting Manali this year compared to last year.
Hukam Ram, a leading hotelier and pradhan of village panchayat, Old Manali, said that there was a significant drop in number of foreign visitors during the Kalachakra ceremony at Leh this year compared to last year.
It is pertinent to mention that Old Manali located across the Manalsu river has emerged as a hub of foreign tourists for the last two decades.
"It is really a great feeling to stay in peace in Manali away from the hurly-burly of the metros," said Edward, a British national, staying in Manali. He said that foreign nationals had great craze for mountain biking on the Manali-Leh route via Rohtang Pass, Lahaul Valley, Spiti Valley, Bara-lacha la and Taglang La passes. However, he suggested that the foreigners should actively participate in adventurous biking expedition only under the guidance of experienced and registered travel agents.