Himachal Pradesh's tourism scene thriving once again after pandemic
The tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh, which was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, has made a strong comeback with more than 1.51 crore tourists visiting in 2022.
The tourism sector that was worst hit during the COVID-19 pandemic in Himachal is bouncing back with tourist arrival crossing the 1.51 crore mark in 2022. In 2019, 1.72 crore tourists visited the state. As many as 1.51 crore tourists including 29,333 foreigners visited Himachal in 2022 with the twin districts of Kullu and Shimla accounting for 36 percent of the total tourist arrival.
According to the data procured from the tourism department, there has been a 62 percent rise in the number of tourists as compared to 2021 when only 56.37 lakh tourists visited the state. The maximum number of tourists, 18.70 lakhs and 20.63 lakhs visited the state in May and June respectively. (Also read: 5 trends that will shape family vacation in 2023 )
The tourism sector contributes about 7.5 percent to the state's gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the tourists staying in unregistered accommodations including hotels, home stays and others are not included in this data.
"Breaking the monotonous routine due to lockdown and restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now venturing out and the aggressive targeted marketing and publicity by the tourism department in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh from where the inflow was low has helped in increasing the footfall," Tourism and Managing Director of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Amit Kashyap told PTI.
"We focused on marketing through jingles in vernacular languages and advertised on television, multiplexes, bus stands and railway stations in these states. We also released short videos for social media, highlighting the unexplored destinations in all the 12 districts. The efforts have yielded results and the tourist inflow has touched about 87 percent of pre-Covid figures," he added.
"The tourist footfall in December was less than expected as snow eluded the capital city of Shimla and the snowfalls were scanty at other places, otherwise, we would have surpassed 2019 figures," said a local hotelier Sushant Nag adding that a permanent solution to the problem of traffic congestion and parking in key tourist destinations of Shimla, Manali and Dharamshala can further improve the tourist footfall in the state.
Atal tunnel (Rohtang), the new gateway to Lahaul and Spiti has emerged as a tourist hotspot and visitors are also making a beeline to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti, said the President of Manali Hoteliers Association, Mukesh Thakur. The tourism and allied industry suffered immense losses during the pandemic and tourist inflow dropped by 81 per cent in 2020 as compared to the year 2019.
The tourist arrival in Himachal was 1.72 crore in 2019, which crashed to 32.13 lakhs in 2020 and marginally recovered to 56.37 lakhs in 2021. Dharamsala, the abode of Tibetan Guru Dalai Lama is a preferred tourist location, Shimla is famous for being the "queen of hills", reminiscent of British architecture and Kullu-Manali for snow and adventure sports.
There is a perennial flow of tourists to the "Shakti Peeths" in Kangra, Bilaspur, Una, Simaur and Mandi, known as "Chhoti Kashi", for ancient Shiva temples while foreign tourists and adventure lovers are attracted to Kinnaur, Lahaul, Spiti and Chamba.