Fear of losses mounts as unrest in Shimla hits tourism sector in lean season

It’s a double whammy for the tourism sector in Shimla. In a lean season, the sector has been hit by cancellations and fall in bookings due to the unrest over the rape and murder of a teenager.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2017 12:50 IST
Himachal Pradesh,Shimla,Tourism
Closed shops at Mall road in Shimla on Thursday during a bandh called by the BJP to protest the government’s handling of teh rape and murder of teenage girl in Kotkhai.(HT PHOTO)

A raft of cancellations by tourists in the wake of violence and protests in Shimla and adjacent towns following the rape and murder of a teenager in Kotkhai is threatening to the send the tourism sector into a tailspin during the lean season.

While the hotel industry cities a 15 to 20% dip in bookings, the government tourism department insists that the unrest in the hills has had no impact on tourism yet.

Those associated with the tourism sector say many tourists are also cancelling their trips.

The protests against the rape and murder turned violent not only in Kotkhai and Theog but also in Shimla. On Thursday, Shimla shut down and traffic went off the road in response to a bandh called by the BJP over the alleged inept handling of case by state government.

Post-June is considered off season in Shimla and surrounding areas with the onset of the monsoon and industry people claim that bookings go down by 40-50% during this period.

“But as newspapers and media is reporting about the protests and violence a large number of people are opting for cancellation of bookings. We can say there is 15-20% in arrival and bookings have dipped due to protests and violence,” Ashwani Sood, a hotelier and general secretary of Shimla Hotels and Restaurant Association.

“Tourists don’t want to go where there is unrest. It is a general psyche,” he added.

Shimla has nearly 200 hotels and over a two dozen are spread across neighbouing Mashobara, Kufri and Chail.

Harnam Kukreja, another hotelier and president of Shimla Hotels and Restaurant Association said that if the protests continue the tourism sector would receive a severe blow.

Read more: Mamata waits for news of husband: Accused in Shimla gangrape killed in custody

“The matter was taken up in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. It is all over the TV channels and newspapers. Obviously, there would be fall in tourist arrival and bookings,” he said. He too said that there have been cancellations and tourist arrival and bookings are down by 15-20%.

At the tourist Information and Assistance Centre at the Ridge Maidan, tourism officials reported of no complaints from tourists. Deputy Director (tourism), Surender Justa claimed that as of now there was no impact on tourism.

“It is already considered off season in Shimla. It is very difficult to assess any impact at this stage,” he added.

But during Thursday’s protests in Shimla tourists complained of not getting food and cabs to visit nearby places.

“We have not had food since morning and had to cancel our trips to Kufri. There is no fear as such. But yes, many of us have not been able to get food and shop,” Rahul Chaudhary and Nishant Tomar, two students from Meerut said.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 18:45 IST