The footfall of tourists has increased in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh and particularly its capital Shimla during the Diwali festival season.
The rush of tourists is such that the Kalka-Shimla trains are fully occupied and the tourists are rushing to hills to spend holidays. Buses and private vehicles are also being used by tourists as means to arrive in Shimla.
This has surely given a reason to rejoice to the local travel and tourism business units. They expect this great footfall to translate into great business and revenue in days to come. Tourism has been the backbone of the state’s economy.
After a long economic setback due to Covid-19 and consequent lockdowns and curfews, the inflow of tourists has increased hope of revival of tourism in the state. Lockdowns had put the tourism sector to a long halt, causing heavy losses to the ones employed in the sector. Covid-19 affected various stakeholders of tourism, be it the travel agents, the 10,000 or more hotels and guest houses (both registered and unregistered), taxi drivers, guides etc. Many of them lost their jobs as the business came crashing down to zero due to lack of movement of people, goods and services due to the pandemic.
But things could swing in favour of this sector once again as people come into the state, looking forward to an amazing vacation after sitting inside their homes for almost two years.
Harish, a travel agent said that the business has been picking up and is optimistic that the footfall stays consistently good.
“Last two years were very bad for Tourism, business was absolutely nil. Since the Durga Puja festival, tourists are arriving here. There is 70 per cent occupancy in hotels in Shimla. We expect tourists from Gujarat to arrive here too. We are expecting to have a great business in days to come,” he said while talking to ANI.
Tourists are also extremely delighted because after a long gap of two years, they are able to get out of their houses, that too during the festive season to spend their vacations at Shimla.
Ravi Rathore, a tourist from Haryana said to ANI, “We were in Lockdown, there was no outing. There is a festive season going on. I am here with my friends in Shimla. We are looking forward to spending a few days here and celebrating Diwali here. The weather here is also nice.”
Another tourist named Viral has come to Shimla for the first time and he is also delighted with his experiences.
“It is our first time in Shimla. The experience of the Toy train was amazing. The weather here is nice. My journey has been great. People get holidays at festivals and no one really got to get out of their homes due to COVID. That is why people are coming here. I urge people to stay cautious, wear a mask, practice distancing and be well-aware of the guidelines of the government. We will celebrate Diwali in Manali. It is my son’s birthday too,” he said.