Tourism hit in parched Shimla, hoteliers urge govt to take steps to lift town’s image
Shimla is facing its worst water crisis in the last 15 years following a dry weather spell that depleted the levels of water in various sources.Updated: Jun 01, 2018 14:39 IST
The massive water crisis in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla has led to a big fall in tourism during the peak season as hundreds of tourists cancelled their bookings at the hotels in the hugely popular hill station, officials and hotel owners said on Friday.
“The tourist footfall that was 20% has now gone down by 50% in the last few days,” district tourism officer Shushil Justa said.
Shimla, a charming town that attracts 20,000 tourists every day, is facing its worst water crisis in the last 15 years following a dry weather spell that depleted the levels of water in various sources. The town received 19 million litres of water on Friday as against its requirement of 45 million litres every daily.
The last time Shimla faced such a crisis was in 2002 when the daily water supply came down to just 11 million litres.
“The water scarcity has impacted tourism in Shimla. We are also meeting the government to discuss the ongoing water situation,” Shimla Hoteliers and Restaurateurs Association president Harman Kukreja said.
“The government will have to take steps to improve the image of Shimla that took a beating due to the water scarcity,” he added.
The association has also convened a meeting of its member to discuss the issue.
Some of the tourists have cut short their visit and those who had booked rooms in Shimla are heading to other tourist destinations owing to the water shortage that hit national headlines a week ago.
“I was staying in a hotel near the bus stand. It had no water. Surprisingly, the hotel staff asked me to use a nearby public toilet,” Bruce, a 35-year-old a tourist from Ludhiana, said.
“It was a sad state of affairs during my three-day visit. I remained dependent on packaged water to quench my thirst. The hotel I was staying at supplied water in toilets only for 15 minutes. We are going back without bathing,” Chandigarh’s Piyusha Singh said.
There are 253 hotels with a bed capacity of 8,000 in Shimla that are registered with the government. Besides the hotels, the town has 169 homestays and 50 restaurants.
The travel agents in Shimla have also suffered losses due to the decline in the numbers of tourists.
“I cancelled five bookings just an hour ago. I diverted them to Manali. All those who had planned to visit Shimla are scared of the water scarcity,” Suresh Dogra a travel agent on the main Mall Road, said.
The residents of the town have asked the visitors to stay away from during the peak season until it tides over its debilitating water crisis. The appeal, sent out by residents and environmentalists through social media, comes amid road-blocks and clashes between police and locals in the otherwise peaceful town.
Authorities have also postponed a major tourist attraction, the International Shimla Summer Festival, scheduled from June 1 to 5 due to the scarcity of water in the town.
The Himachal Pradesh high court tried to address the situation through a temporary ban on construction activities and washing of cars, besides a directive against according preferential treatment to VIPs such as ministers, bureaucrats and judges.
And on Wednesday, the court ordered authorities to snap the water connections of 224 hotels and guest houses that have not deposited their bills.