Prolonged rains hit Himachal tourism, power generation scales heights

Shimla: Prolonged rains have kept hydropower generation plants busy but tourism, has been hit with some saying that occupancy has fallen by as much a fifty percent when compare to a normal year.

Member of a business chamber and hotelier Ajit Butail says, “Occupancy has been very low for August and September. He holds the weather as the main spoilsport for the cancellations in bookings.

“These months are considered the best for mountain biking, trekking and other adventure sports, but many of the foreigners who make their booking well in advance have been cancelling their travel plans to Shimla,” said Butail.

Heavy rains elsewhere in the country has also effected domestic tourist arrivals and on top of it, setting in of the Shraad month, has hit hard,” he added.

Tourism officer Surinder Justa, who monitors tourist arrivals, says that bad weather has indeed taken a toll on the sector in the state.

Lack of a big airfield for landing larger planes is one of the reasons why tourists tend to skip Himachal in uncertain weather conditions, he said.

A camper, Pankaj Goswami, who has readied a camp at Shrikoti hill near Rampur in Satluj valley said that cancellations of booking had badly affected business.

There are not many takers for the tribal circuit of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, which being on the northern side of the Himalayan ranges are outside the range of monsoon rains, he said.

Early snow at Rohtang Pass and the bad road leading to the pass has hindered traffic on the Manali-Leh circuit, he added.

Travel agents maintained that Jammu & Kashmir was a preferred choice of tourist this year as record number of tourists visited the valley.

The numbers who visited both Kashmir valley and Leh was a record and is believed to be one reason for tourism and travel business being affected in Himachal.

Meanwhile, the heavy rains have the major dams at Bhakra and Pong filled to the brim, leading to opening of flood gates from time to time.

Vijay Verma, spokesman for a company operating a large hydro plant in Himachal said, “We are likely to surpass all generation records this season.”

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