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Posted at: Aug 17, 2019, 7:35 AM; last updated: Aug 17, 2019, 7:40 AM (IST)

Kullu-Manali tourism industry on edge

Reason: Bad roads, traffic jams | Hoteliers a worried lot

Dipender Manta

Hoteliers and other people associated with the tourism industry want better road infrastructure and traffic management in Kullu district. 

Owing to the pathetic condition of roads and poor traffic management, the tourism industry of Kullu-Manali is suffering. 

Long traffic jams are a common sight in Kullu-Manali during the peak tourist season due to inadequate road infrastructure and poor traffic management, which irk visitors. It is harming the tourism industry of Kullu and Manali. 

According to hoteliers, the tourist season remains for a limited time, as it starts in the end of April and lasts till the end of June in the summer season and in the winter season, it starts in September and lasts till December, depending upon the weather and frequency of snowfall. 

The tourism industry of Kullu-Manali is on the edge due to inadequate arrangements by the state government. 

Anil Kant Sharma, a hotelier in Manali town, said: “Poor condition of roads and traffic management is taking a toll on tourism industry every year. One can imagine what the fate of tourism industry will be when tourists get stuck in traffic snarls for more than 10 hours between Manali and Rohtang pass.”

“Despite the National Green Tribunal restriction to ply only 1,200 vehicles towards Rohatng Pass, the area still observes long traffic jams during tourist season, which is a matter of concern,” he said.

He said the state government should promote tourism industry by providing proper transport facilities. In peak tourist season, expert traffic management is the need of the hour. They should be provided motorcycles, so that they can move in their jurisdiction to keep a check on traffic violators. Between Manali and Rohtang, there should be temporary resting places for these police personnel, he said. 

Anup Thakur, president of Hoteliers’ Association Kullu-Manali, said: “It is quite unfortunate that when tourists want to visit Kullu-Manali to enjoy their vacations, the state government is unable to provide better road infrastructure and new tourist destinations for them.”

“The tourism industry of Kullu-Manali is surviving on its own because God has blessed this area with bounty of nature, which attracts tourists. Successive governments in the past did nothing to promote the tourism industry here. As a result, we only have one tourist destination — Rohtang Pass, which receives heavy tourist influx during peak tourist season. Due to this, tourists get stuck in long tariff jams because the road is not fit to accommodate such large number of tourist vehicles,” he said.

“We urged the state government to promote new tourist destinations in Kullu district as it will divert tourists to different locations. It will automatically reduce traffic jams toward a single tourist destination. The restrictions imposed by NGT to ply limited number of vehicles towards Rohtang for tourist activity is just promoting corruption in this hilly state,” he said. 

Anup said since after four-laning work started from Mandi towards Manali, the tourism industry of Kullu-Manali remains on edge during the rainy season. The area is prone to landslide because the National Highways Authority of India has done unscientific cutting towards the hill side. 

“Roads are a lifeline of tourism industry, so the state government should focus on developing better road infrastructure. Apart from this, traffic management is a big issue, for which experts should be deployed rather depending on homeguards,” he said.

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