Shimla: As the election fever spills over, tourists on the lookout for a quiet getaway in the cool climes of a hill resort are caught up in the political crossfire as a lame government restricted by the code of conduct drives hard to protect its electoral backyard.
Davender Shyam, who runs a hotel here, recorded the lowest arrivals in five years. â€œEconomic slowdown compounded by there being virtually no snowfalls through the winter caused a deep slump in the travel trade. And now this election,â€ he said.
Ajit Butail, president hotels association says, â€œSince winter, tourist arrivals have picked up but elections are definitely impacting businesses as many tourists have deferred travel plans to after elections.â€
To beat the Delhi heat, Meghna Sawhney, a financial planner on holiday could not get around the political drama unfolding around the county.
â€œWhile political parties try hard to woo the voter,â€ she said, â€œthe landscape bears scars of the process. Wall writings, elections posters sticking out of any available public space and plastic hanging ending up in drains is only choking the tour.â€
In all this, roads suffer neglect. A drive to Narkanda and back left me wondering whether this road was fit to graded as a national highway,â€ she added
Butail says that with the government constrained by the enforcement of the election code of conduct, roads have not got their year’s fresh tar coat and with most leaders out on poll duty, tourismÂ needed more attention.
However, tourism official Surinder Justa says a recovery was on. â€œ Arrivals were up during Easter holidays and most of the 350 hotels in the city had reported 90 % occupancy, he said.
Since then there is a marginal fall and presently occupancy hovers at about 70 percent, said Justa, a district tourism officer who monitors movement of tourists. “But number of foreign tourists was lower than previous years,” he said.