‘Floods scaring away tourists from Himachal’

Shimla: The negative propaganda over the recent floods in Himachal Pradesh has affected the tourism industry and over 50 percent bookings have been cancelled, Shimla Municipal Corporation Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar said.'Floods scaring away tourists from Himachal'

In a letter to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Panwar said: “I was appalled to know that the recent flash floods (in Kinnaur) suddenly cancelled more than 50 percent of the bookings of the tourists in the state, particularly in Shimla.”

He said since tourism is one of the major sources of income for the people of the state, the blow to the industry due the scare created by the floods in Kinnaur district has severely affected the livelihood of lakhs of people.

The deputy mayor wrote to Virbhadra Singh, who also holds a tourism portfolio, that “this letter is for immediate intervention that needs to be done so that we do not lose our (tourism) business to various competitors in the country”.

“My concern is about the negative propaganda that has been carried out in the country about the safety of the tourists in the hilly region,” he said.

Incessant rain in the region June 16-18 triggered massive landslides that blocked most of the roads in the remote Kinnaur region.

Official sources said most of the tourist destinations like Sangla, Pooh, Kaza and Nako in Kinnaur were still cut off from the rest of the state.

Panwar said a proper focus on the tourism sector was needed “to ensure that we have sustainable tourism in the state”.

For promoting tourism in the long run, he said the state required a brand ambassador.

Himachal Pradesh attracted 1.61 crore tourists, including 497,850 foreigners, in 2012, a state tourism department report said.

At present, 2,169 hotels with a bed capacity of 55,928 are registered with the state, it said.

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