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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Kashmir clampdown: Tourist footfall up in key Himachal towns

Thousands of tourists left Srinagar after the state government issued a security advisory asking them to leave the Valley.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2019 01:37 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
After scrapping of Article 370, tourist footfall in the valley has declined substantially.
After scrapping of Article 370, tourist footfall in the valley has declined substantially. (AP)
         

Shimla Tourists towns in Himachal Pradesh have witnessed an increase in visitor footfall after the government clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of moving a resolution to scrap Article 370, officials and tour operators said on Tuesday.

They, however, said the BJP-led centre government’s decision to drop the constitutional provision for Jammu and Kashmir has impacted tourism in the tribal Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts of Himachal Pradesh. These districts depend on the tourist inflow from Leh and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

Monsoon is the prime tourists season for Kashmir’s Leh and Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti districts in Himachal. Tourist visiting Srinagar usually make a trip to Manali via Ladakh. Similarly, hundreds of tourist on way to these regions in Kashmir usually halt in Manali.

The hotels and tourist camps on the 479-kilometre long Leh Manali Highway depend on tourists from Ladakh. The main stations on the highway are Jispa, Keylong and Sissu and Sarchu.

Thousands of tourists left Srinagar after the state government issued a security advisory asking them to leave the Valley. And, during the last two days, tourist inflow in Himachal Pradesh has gone up even as the monsoon season is lean for the hospitality industry.

“Manali has witnessed a 30% to 40% drop in tourist inflow during the last three days. However, the tourist inflow has started to increase from today (Tuesday) onwards,” Manali’s district tourism officer Bhagchand Negi said.

Travel operators in Himachal Pradesh said they were hopeful of gaining from the clampdown in Kashmir Valley.

“We expect that the domestic tourists who had to cancel their Kashmir trip would now pay a visit to this region in the coming days,” Prem Sagar, a tour and travel operator in McLeodganj, said.

He said the impact will be visible only after August 15. “Also, tourists consider Leh and Ladakh as safer places and would be moving to those destinations,” he added.

However, secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Association of McLeodganj and Dharamshala Sanjeev Gandhi said there has been no immediate impact on the tourism industry after the developments regarding Kashmir.

“We haven’t seen tourists who cancelled their Kashmir visit coming here,” said Gandhi.

“Yet, we hope that in the coming days the tourist flow will increase in the region if Kashmir Valley remains closed for a prolonged period,” he added. Last year, more than 1.64 crore people, including 1.60 crore domestic and 3.5 lakh foreign tourists, had visited the state.

First Published: Aug 06, 2019 17:17 IST

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