ABHISHEK CHAKRABORTY – New Delhi
The early arrival of monsoon and catastrophe in Uttarakhand has taken a toll on the tourism industry of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, with holiday-makers concerned about the present weather conditions. Many have even contacted hoteliers and travel agents to know if it is safe to visit the north now and have even started cancelling their trips, sources said.
May 15 to August 15 is the peak summer season in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. However, the arrival of monsoon in mid-June this year has hit the industry. The clouds of danger are now hovering over the tourist season, including Manali-Ladakh bike and jeep safari tours. Tandra Bhattacharjee, a resident of Delhi, who had planned a trip to some of the hilly terrain in the north with her family and friends, has now dropped the plan. “I was planning a trip to some place in Himachal but the floods has devastated my plans. I pray for the people who were stranded there and for them who have lost their near and dear ones.”
Bhattacharjee is not the only traveller who had dropped her plan to holiday in the north, many are fearing that if they go they might get trapped in the floods. Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, stated, “People are opting for destinations in Rajasthan because of the floods in northern India.”
“Surprisingly, this time around Rajasthan is picking up due to the heavy rains that have struck northern India and have resulted in floods and landslides at various tourist spots. However travellers are still looking forward to enjoy the monsoon holidays at destinations such as Ladakh, Kerala, Goa,” added Dhall.
In 2011, Uttarakhand had received over 25 million domestic tourists and Himachal Pradesh over 15 million. However, this year hotels’ occupancy level is down by 20 per cent -30 per cent. Not only domestic tourism but inbound international tourism has also been affected because of the floods.