Mandi, August 20
The tourism industry of Kullu-Manali and Lahaul & Spiti districts has been hit hard after the recent rain disaster in Himachal. Unprecedented destruction occurred in Kullu district and it badly damaged the Chandigarh-Manali highway between Mandi and Manali. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) restored this highway to traffic between Mandi and Kullu.
This month, heavy rains from August 11 to 14 have damaged this highway again (between Mandi and Pandoh), which could not be restored yet for normal traffic. The NHAI has engaged its workforce and machinery to restore the highway between Mandi and Manali earliest, via Pandoh.
The district administration has restored two alternative routes between Mandi and Kullu via Kataula and Chailchowk-Pandoh road stretch for the movement of light vehicles. As the road via Kataula is narrow, a long traffic jam is being witnessed on this route. It takes five to eight hours to reach Kullu from Mandi, which was earlier hardly a two-hour trip.
Bearing the brunt of poor road conditions on the tourism industry, the hoteliers of Kullu-Manali and Lahaul and Spiti have urged the NHAI to restore Chandigarh-Manali highway at the earliest between Mandi and Manali via Pandoh.
Gajender Thakur, chief patron of the Hoteliers Association, Manali, told The Tribune that currently the room occupancy in hotels of Kullu-Manali was bardly 5 per cent. Poor road connectivity is a major setback to the tourism industry here because the Chandigarh-Manali highway is damaged badly between Mandi and Pandoh.
“We urge the NHAI to speed up restoration work on this highway, which is the lifeline of the tourism industry to Kullu-Manali,” he remarked.
Anup Thakur, president of the Kullu-Manali Paryatan Vikas Mandal, said “the rain disaster has adversely affected the tourism industry here. There is an urgent need to speed up restoration work of roads, especially Chandigarh-Manali highway, which is the lifeline of the tourism industry of Kullu-Manali and Lahaul and Spiti. We are hopeful that as soon as road connectivity improves to Kullu-Manali, the tourist influx will improve here. We are hopeful that by mid-September, the tourist influx will gain momentum.”
Room occupancy just 5%
- At present, there is just 5 per cent room occupancy in hotels of Manali. Due to the lack of tourist influx, most of hoteliers have sent their staff on leave till September
- The hoteliers are expecting an increase in tourist influx after the first week of September, but it will depend on road connectivity to Kullu-Manali from Mandi in the coming days
- Poor road connectivity is a major setback to the tourism industry here because the Chandigarh-Manali highway is damaged badly between Mandi and Pandoh
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