Shimla: Poll fatigued tourists are staying put till result date as the rush to hill stations is yet to pick up. Post May 16 as the election fever weans out and the heat waves set in, advance bookings at most resorts are near capacity that the hotels hope to cash on given the dull off start that the current year’s season has been thus far.
“So far there have hardly been any tourists visiting Shimla,” says Davender Shyam, a hotel owner. Online bookings and those made by regular travel agents is the only occupancy that has kept many of us in business, he added.
However, he mentioned that after May 15 most of the hotels were booked on a regular basis right till the first half of July.
City centre The Mall Road, which otherwise is a crowded walk by mid April, does not have many tourists walking on it.
Garment store owner Raman Sood says that sales so far have been low. “Tourists who come looking for Kullu shawls and other handicraft products are simply not there,” he said.
District tourism officer Surinder Justa however, is optimistic. “With a general election underway, the tourist flow lower than normal years, is along expected lines for the people are engaged in electioneering and voting,” he said.
He added that a prolonged winter in the western Himalayan zone coupled with summer vacations not having started in the plains has also impacted the movement of people into summer destinations.
With the city’s traffic not tied in summer jams and the deficient water supply not stressed yet, locals caught up in political speculations are, however, a relieved lot.
“As the tourism season picks up, life becomes difficult for residents,” says Asha Devi, a housewife. “Commuting becomes difficult and there comes a time when the municipal authorities start resorting to third day water supplies or even worse to rationing it. Mercifully it has not been so till now,” she said.
The comfort maybe short lived. “On weekends all the hotels are reporting good occupancy. Going by advance booking trends then we are headed for a good tourist count from mid-May onwards,” said Justa.