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Posted at: Feb 6, 2017, 12:54 AM; last updated: Feb 6, 2017, 12:54 AM (IST)

Tourist inflow up post-demonetisation

A major attraction

  • Tourists from Maharashtra and Gujarat throng the state during April and May. A majority of tourists from Central India come in June and July while tourists from West Bengal visit the state during September and October. Heavy rush is seen during the winter tourism season from mid-December to the first week of January. Pilgrims visit the state during Navratras in March-April, September-October, August and January-February.
Tourist inflow up post-demonetisation
Heavy rush on The Ridge in Shimla. The tourist footfall increased by 5.24 per cent in 2016. File photo

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 5

The general impression is that demonetisation has hit the tourism industry in Himachal, but data procured from the Tourism Department states otherwise. During 2016, the tourist inflow increased by 5.24 per cent.

In November, 11,03,468 and 28,467 Indian and foreign tourists arrived in the state as compared to 1,10,06,678 and 27,754 in the corresponding month in 2015 while during the month of December, the increase was significant and as against 9,65,668 domestic and 16929 foreign tourists during 2015, the arrival in 2016 was 10,10,408 domestic and 17,824 foreigners.

The state received 1,84,50,520 tourists, including 4,52,770 foreigners, during 2016 as compared to 1,75,31,153, including 4,06,108 foreigners, in 2015, but hoteliers in Shimla and Kullu-Manali differ on the impact of demonetisation.

Manali hoteliers, who made adequate preparations in advance to meet any exigency, were a happy lot as the occupancy in the hotels broke all records from December to 29 to December 31.

“We felt the pinch of demonetisation only for two weeks and persuaded hoteliers to install cash machines and ensured that no inconvenience was caused to visitors. Following a bitter experience in the past when the police had issued an advisory asking tourists not to come to Manali due to heavy snow, we were fully prepared this time and had held a meeting with the district administration much in advance regarding the alternative arrangements to be put in place in case of heavy snowfall and even hired four private contractors to remove snow from roads,” said president, Manali Hotel association, Gajinder Thakur.

Travel Mart, winter carnival and skiing championship were held as scheduled at the Solang Nullah, he added.

President of the Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association MK Seth said it was only demonetisation that had hit the tourism industry, snowfall too played a spoilsport. Rather than attracting the tourists, it caused inconvenience by disrupting the water/power supply and blocking roads. Seth said hotels in Shimla were also facing an unhealthy competition from home stays and guest houses as a large number of owners had increased the number of rooms illegally.

The data collected by the department did not reflect the actual number of tourists visiting the state as a single person visiting three or four places in a tourist circuit is counted three or four times. “Moreover, two to four tourists implies occupancy of one room,” he added.

The highest number of 35,15,169 tourist arrived in Kullu district followed by Shimla (34,16,629) and Kangra (25,28,837). There was no change in the trend as last year also Kullu received maximum number of tourists followed by Shimla and Kangra.

However, there was a decrease in the number of tourists during April and May and against 36,42,981 domestic tourists visiting the state in the twin months in 2015, only 35,49,985 tourists visited Himachal in 2016, but there was a marginal increase of 1,649 in the arrival of foreign tourists.

As many as 19,70,225 domestic tourists and 46,510 foreign tourists visited the state during June as against 15,82,613 domestic and 36,859 foreign tourists in 2015.

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