Hoteliers offer special packages to pull back tourists to Shimla
With the tourist influx in Shimla seeing a ‘drastic’ decline in the wake of recent water scarcity, hotels have slashed the tariff by 20 to 30% to pull the tourists back.
Tourism in Shimla was adversely affected after residents had taken to streets to protest against the water scarcity. Environmentalists and social activists had even resorted to appealing the tourists on the social networking sites to avoid visiting Shimla until the water situation improved.
The state government had to shut down government-run schools and postpone the international summer festival in Shimla that draws a number a locals and tourist, owing to the acute water shortage. The said festival was slated to take place on The Ridge between June 1 and June 4, but there is no announcement on the revised dates.
The tourism business has reportedly seen a dip of 60% at the time when Shimla usually witnesses heavy tourist flow. A month after the water crisis hit Shimla , the hospitality industry is still struggling to recoup the loss. Hoteliers in Shimla are now offering special packages to attract tourists.
“The widely reported water scarcity resulted in negative publicity of the town. Tourism, which is the backbone of hotel industry in the hill states like Shimla, took a terrible hit due to the unfortunate episode of water shortage,” said Hotel and Restaurant Association of North India, Sanjay Sood.
“Most of the hoteliers and restaurateurs are now offering 20-30% discount on stay and food. It’s not only the hoteliers, but other stakeholders too have suffered losses,” he added.
“The tourists are preferring Nainital and Mussoorie over Shimla nowadays,” Sood said.
Meanwhile, few hoteliers in Shimla have also asked the government to reconsider the bed-and-breakfast scheme launched in state under the ‘Incredible India’ campaign.
“Most of the homestays under this scheme not only violate the guidelines laid by the central government, but many of them are being run illegally,” said a hotelier Anil Walia.
“Homestay owners are not paying taxes under the scheme and some of them are charging exorbitant tariffs. We want the government to set a level playing field for all,” he added.
Hoteliers have also demanded the government to assess the tourist-inflow capacity of the town, so that more facilities for the visitors could be planned accordingly.
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the tourism portfolio, has confirmed that the water situation in Shimla has improved significantly over the past one week. “Water supply in Shimla had once dipped to 19 MLD, but with the supply of 42 MLD water today, the situation has improved. As of now, there is no water crisis,” he said. Jai Ram said his government had drawn a long-term plan to meet water requirement of the Shimla town.