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Shimla Sees High Tourist Footfall Before Diwali; State Hopes For Steady Economic Recovery

Ahead of Diwali, the hill state of Himachal Pradesh witnessed an increase in tourists, particularly in Shimla, which registered over 70% occupancy in hotels.


Image: ANI

Ahead of Diwali, the hill state of Himachal Pradesh has witnessed an increase in tourists, particularly in the state capital, Shimla. In fact, the tourist rush is so high that the Kalka-Shimla trains are completely booked. Tourists are also travelling to Shimla on buses and private vehicles.

The increase in visitors has given local travel and tourism businesses a cause for celebration. They anticipate that the increased tourist traffic will convert into increased sales and revenue in the coming days. Notably, the state's economy relies heavily on tourism.

Tourist inflow to Shimla positive for post-COVID recovery   

After a long economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns and curfews, the influx of tourists has raised hopes for a tourism recovery in the state. COVID-induced lockdowns had brought the state's tourism industry to a halt, resulting in significant losses for those employed in the industry.

The COVID pandemic had an impact on a variety of tourism operators, including travel agents, 10,000 or more hotels and guest homes both registered and unregistered, taxi drivers, guides, and more. Many of them lost their jobs as the economy collapsed due to the lack of movement of people, products, and services caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ravi Rathore, a tourist from Haryana told 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."

Businesses optimistic about increasing tourist footfall 

People coming into the state, looking forward to a fantastic vacation after remaining inside their houses for over two years, is expected to swing things back in favour of the state's tourism industry. Harish, a travel agent, said that business has been improving and that he is optimistic that tourist inflow will continue to improve. Tourists are also ecstatic because, after a two-year hiatus, they are finally allowed to leave their homes, and that too during the festive season, to spend their vacation in the picturesque city of Shimla.

"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.

COVID-19 in Himachal Pradesh 

On Monday, Himachal Pradesh reported three COVID-19 deaths and 145 positive cases. In addition, 218 positive patients were able to recover in the state. There are a total of 22,42,51 confirmed positive cases in the state, with 1,865 active cases, 21,86,28 patients who have recovered, and 3,741 patients who have died. So far, 36,90,458 people have been tested for COVID-19, with 34,66,202 of them being found to be negative. Since 7 pm on Sunday, a total of 5,447 samples have been examined in the state, with five samples still awaiting results.

"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," said Viral, a tourist visiting Shimla for the first time. 

(With inputs from ANI, Image: ANI)

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