Himachal CM calls traffic jam rumours ‘baseless’; notes visitor surge in tourist hotspots, ET TravelWorld

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<p>Image used for representation only</p>
Image used for representation only

Himachal Pradesh‘s Chief Minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, addressed recent speculations surrounding tourism in the state, revealing a significant rise in visitor numbers despite setbacks in the industry. Popular destinations like Shimla, Manali, and Dharamshala observed an influx of tourists, countering rumours of traffic jams in Manali and other areas, which Sukhu dismissed as baseless.

Recently, a few concerns fueled by circulating aerial images of congested hill roads, impacted hotel bookings particularly during the festive season in the state. This resulted in a notable decline in hotel occupancy rates in Shimla compared to previous peak seasons, as reported by the local stakeholders. Reports suggest that Shimla recorded the lowest occupancy rate on this New year’s eve in last 40 years.

As images circulated, opinions diverged: some experts labeled it as overtourism, the others attributed the issue to excessive reliance on private vehicles. A responsible hotel chain owner pointed out the alarming congestion in India’s hill destinations, advocating for a Swiss-model public rail system. Similar concerns echoed in Munnar, he recalled where choked roads pointed to the problem of excessive tourist vehicles. According to the him, while the hilly destinations can accommodate more people, the strain lies in managing vehicles, highlighting the pressing need for alternative transportation solutions.On the other end, responding to the challenges, Sukhu assured the public of the government’s efforts to accommodate tourists, emphasising the commitment to making Himachal Pradesh self-reliant. In Nov 2023, Chief Minister Sukhu introduced the e-taxi scheme as part of the INR 680 crore Rajiv Gandhi self-employment start-up initiative. Sukhu emphasised its role in curbing air pollution, aiming to transform Himachal Pradesh into a green energy state by March 31, while also creating employment opportunities for youth. Moreover, the state is developing infrastructure, planning to install 17 e-charging stations within two months to support e-vehicle adoption.

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The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh said that infrastructure is being developed as per the modern-day requirements for the convenience of the visitors. He also informed that there were about 9,000 hotels in Himachal and considering the influx of tourists, the operation of homestays is also being regulated, to attract more tourists in the state.

Sukhu also recalled the government’s efficient response during the disaster caused by floods adding that within a span of 48 hours, essential services were temporarily restored. The successful evacuation of 75,000 tourists and 15,000 vehicles underscored the administration’s effectiveness in crisis management, the CM reiterated.Sukhu was speaking while inaugurating and laying the foundation stones for 13 projects totaling INR 197.93 crore in Kullu district on January 1. Among these were significant infrastructure ventures, including a double-lane bridge over River Beas at Raison costing INR 9.07 crore, and a steel truss bridge at Nehru Kund (Bahang) completed with INR 6.44 crore, linking the Burwa and Shanag link roads. Additionally, projects like the INR 7.83 crore Eco-Friendly Market in Marhi Tehsil, Manali, and the INR 54 lakh Way Side Amenities at Solangnalla were inaugurated.

Sukhu underscored the transformative impact these initiatives would have on both local residents and tourists, projecting them as pivotal milestones for the Kullu district’s development. Highlighting the state’s economic progress, Sukhu declared a 20 per cent improvement within just one year.

  • Published On Jan 2, 2024 at 05:05 PM IST

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