Snowfall boosts disaster-hit tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh - Hindustan Times

Snowfall boosts disaster-hit tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh

By, Shimla
Dec 03, 2023 10:34 PM IST

From Shimla to Kullu-Manali, Dalhousie to Kinnaur, the phone lines of tourist places in Himachal Pradesh are buzzing with inquiries

The recent snowfall in Himachal Pradesh has breathed new life into the state’s tourism industry, raising hope for the stakeholders . Tourists, allured by snow-covered landscapes, are reaching out to explore the picturesque destinations that have experienced snowfall.

The snow-covered Keylong bus stand in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. (HT Photo)
The snow-covered Keylong bus stand in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. (HT Photo)

From Shimla to Kullu-Manali, Dalhousie to Kinnaur, the phone lines of tourist places in the state are buzzing with inquiries. The booking of hotel rooms has kicked into high gear, with travellers and tourists eagerly booking their accommodations for the upcoming Christmas and New Year festivities.

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After a snowfall at Atal Tunnel in Rohtang, Manali, and Lahaul-Spiti, tourists are now flocking to these lesser-explored regions of Himachal Pradesh. This shift has been a welcome relief for local businesses, especially after a disappointing start to the winter tourist season, marked by a lack of inquiries and bookings before the snowfall.

The industry suffered huge losses due to natural disaster during monsoon. Hotel occupancy, which climbed to nearly 90% in June, plummeted to less than 20% during the festive season dealing big blow to the tourism industry. This year, a total of 28.03 lakh tourists visited Himachal Pradesh in June compared to 20.62 lakh last year. The numbers had remained low during the pandemic-hit years, with only 116 tourists visiting the state in June 2020, going up to 6 lakh in 2021.

Visitors chose offbeat destinations and turning to Kashmir and Uttrakhandh. The 25,000 crore tourism constitutes seven percent of the state’s GDP and contributes around 14.42% of direct and indirect employment.

Currently hotel booking across the state at the key tourist destinations are ranging between 40-50%.

“Snowfall in the higher reaches have enthralled tourists ,the rush is increasing gradually . It’s a positive sign for the tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh, which suffered heavy losses during pandemic and then the natural disaster,” said Gajender Thakur, president of the Federation of Himachal Hotels and Restaurant Associations (FOHHRA). The tourism stakeholders are expecting a full house, reaching 100% occupancy during the upcoming Christmas-New Year week.

Thakur expressed optimism about the substantial increase in bookings, especially in popular destinations like Manali. To enhance the festive experience for tourists, hoteliers in Manali have strategically planned a series of events in the last week of the year, ensuring a warm welcome for visitors seeking the perfect blend of celebration and winter charm.

Moderate snowfall in Lahaul valley and nearby high-altitude areas has led to the temporary closure of roads to Keylong and Sissu. Authorities are advising caution to those planning to visit these regions, emphasising the need for careful consideration of travel conditions.

Manu Sood, the general secretary of the Travel Agents Association, said “ Following the recent snowfall, inquiries and advance bookings for the winter season have surged, indicating a promising trend. Sood expresses optimism about the potential for a tourism boom if snowfall graces Christmas celebrations in the state.

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    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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