As Modi arrives in Shimla, Delhi-Shimla flight to boost tourism
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the Alliance Air Shimla-Delhi flight at the scenic Jubbar Hatti airport atop a hill, 35 km from here, on Thursday morning, Himachal Pradesh tourism is set to get a boost.
The resumption of regular flights after five years is expected to attract high-end tourists, especially foreign visitors and business travellers, to Shimla and nearby hill stations. “Yes, we are hopeful that the regular flights from Delhi to Shimla will boost Himachal’s tourism industry,” DP Bhatia, liaison officer with the Shimla-based Oberoi Group of Hotels said.
Kingfisher Airlines was the last commercial airline to have operated regular flights between Delhi and Shimla till it was grounded on September 6, 2012.
With neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir seeing an escalation of violence, tourists are likely to opt for Shimla.
“Starting regular flights from Shimla ahead of summer is good for the tourism industry otherwise tourists usually prefer Srinagar to Shimla,” says Harman Kukreja, the president of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurateur Association.
FLIGHT FIVE DAYS A WEEK
The Alliance Air flight will operate five days a week from Wednesday to Sunday. It will depart from Delhi at 6.10 am and arrive in Shimla at 7.25 am. The same day, it will depart from Shimla at 7.45 am and return to Delhi at 8.45 am.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh and state Tourism Development Board vice-chairman Vijai Singh Mankotia raised the issue with Airport Authority of India (AAI) a number of times to restart the regular flight and to explore the possibility of expanding Shimla airstrip to facilitate landing of bigger aircraft.
Otherwise, this time again we are going lose business travellers to Srinagar,” Bhatia added.
Travel agent Bhanu Sood said air connectivity to Shimla will boost tourism. “Since there is no flight to Shimla, high-end tourists do not visit. To attract more foreigners, air connectivity is important,” he said.
“High-end tourists who visit shimla usually travel by taxi.” he said. It takes about seven to eight hours to travel to Shimla from Delhi by road. The fare for luxury bus from Shimla to Delhi is Rs 960 while a taxi charges Rs 4,500.
“Something is better than nothing. The government should step up efforts to start more flights not only to Delhi but other parts of the country,” he added.
Shimla is the erstwhile capital of British Raj and is famous with both domestic and foreign tourists.