Tourists breathe life into hospitality sector as Himachal unlocks

Published on Jun 15, 2021 12:03 AM IST

Over the weekend, more than 1,200 vehicles entered at the interstate border at Parwanoo, officials said. Similarly, rush was witnessed at other state entry points, including Bilaspur, Mehatpur in Una and Kandwal barrier of Kangra district

Tourists and locals strolling around The Ridge in Shimla on Monday. (ANI)
Tourists and locals strolling around The Ridge in Shimla on Monday. (ANI)
By, Shimla

With the easing of Covid-19 curbs, tourists from the neighbouring states have started flocking to the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh to beat the sweltering heat in the plains, giving the hospitality sector a reason to cheer.

The tourist inflow had stopped in April after the state imposed restrictions to contain the second wave of coronavirus. As the cases and deaths have now ebbed, the government has exempted travellers from carrying RT-PCR negative report to enter the state.

Over the weekend, more than 1,200 vehicles entered at the interstate border at Parwanoo, officials said. Similarly, rush was witnessed at other state entry points, including Bilaspur, Mehatpur in Una and Kandwal barrier of Kangra district.

The hotel occupancy in Shimla has risen to 30% from zero. “The year was terrible for the industry so far as we were unable to meet even capital expenses. We hope that the ‘unlock’ will revive the sector,” said Sanjay Sood, president of Shimla Hotel and Restaurateurs’ Association.

However, tourist footfall was insignificant at the hill-stations of Dharmashala and Dalhousie on the first day of unlock. Vijay Inder Karan, a hotelier from Dharamshala, said they are hoping that the business will pick up in the coming days.

Karan said tourists were keen to come to the hill-stations, but maximum queries are for homestays or secluded properties. Hotels have few online bookings or walk-ins, he said, suggesting that tourists should prefer places with better health infrastructure like Shimla and Kangra.

Follow guidelines, say police

The state police in a press statement advised the tourists to wear masks, practice social distancing and follow other Covid-related guidelines issued by the Himachal government. It said that first-time offenders will be fined 500 under sections 114 and 115 of the HP Police Act, 2007.

Repeat offenders may be arrested, sent to court and may face up to eight days imprisonment or fine of 5,000 or both. “Therefore, all tourists are requested to kindly follow all Covid guidelines in letter and spirit during their stay in HP,” said police.

Confusion at Mehatpur border

To their dismay, tourists without Covid test reports were sent to home quarantine by the police at the Mehatpur border in Una district.

The police personnel deployed at the checkpost said they were yet to receive fresh orders from the nodal officer concerned. “We are checking RT-PCR reports of the people coming to stay in Una district as we haven’t received orders against it,” said a cop on duty at Mehatpur.

He said those who don’t have Covid-19 report or are not vaccinated are being sent to home quarantine.

Rohtang Pass opens

With Manali buzzing with tourists, the local administration has opened the Rohtang Pass.

As per the arrangements, tourists will be allowed to visit Rohtang Pass with a permit. The offline permits, costing 550 each, can be obtained at Manali. However, online permits have not been started. A maximum 1,200 vehicles — 800 petrol and 400 diesel vehicles — will be allowed towards the pass per day.

President of Manali Hotel Association Anoop Thakur welcomed the administration’s decision to open the Rohtang, a major tourist destination. He said it would help the ailing tourism industry get back on the track.

Manali sub-divisional magistrate Raman Gharsangi said the administration has made complete arrangements at the Gulaba barrier. He said the tourists will have to comply with Covid guidelines and only local taxis will be allowed for Rohtang visit.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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