Shimla: Fallout of recent sectarian clashes in Srinagar has spiked year-ender booking at hotels across the state, even as the tourism department has planned out Masroor Cultural festival in Kangra to coincide with the festive week.
Talking to reporters here today, Sudripta Roy, chief secretary said, “there has been a sudden increase in tourist bookings for the last week of year and the first week of next one. We are almost booked to near capacity.”
“The government was in touch with civil aviation ministry for getting Air India to operate flights to Dharamshala, Kullu and Shimla so that high end tourists who would like to be part of the New Year celebrations at our hill resorts get to avail the service,” he said.
With grounding of Kingfisher Airlines, the only operator who was plying flights to these destinations, the three airports have been lying idle for months.
To diversify tourism from crowded destinations like Shimla and Manali, the concept of home stays under the promotional campaign of ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ has caught the fancy of tourists, said Roy.
The scheme intends to adopt another village in each district besides the 12 already taken up for developing basic infrastructure in the adopted villages. By Feburary 13, twelve rural circuits to these villages would be operational.
Holding of the Masroor Cultural and Folk festival is part of this campaign and the second such festival would be held in the last of December, he added.
The chief secretary said that in the absence of any rail network, air connectivity; road transport was facing infrastructural constraints and funds had been marked for developing 75 parking lots and 40 public conveniences.
Of the Rs 86 Cr provided by the central government for improvement of tourism infrastructure, Rs 52 crore had been spent and the remaining would be utilized by March 13.
In addition the central government had provided an additional Rs 34 crore for developing a mega circuit, he said.
Till October, tourism has grown by 10.26 percent over last year, said Arun Sharma, commissioner tourism. Against 14.6 million tourists, 15 million in the corresponding period had already visited the state, said Sharma.
The tourism department is executing works worth Rs 52 crore and has also spent Rs 2.5 crore on eco-tourism.