Tourists have been given a jolt before the summer season starting from April 15 in Himachal Pradesh. Accommodation and food in Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) hotels have been made expensive. The fare for general 300, deluxe rooms has been increased to Rs 400. The new rates will be applicable from April 15. At present, the normal room rate in HPTDC hotels in plains has been increased from Rs.2000 to Rs.2300 per night. The deluxe room which was earlier available for Rs 2500, now you will have to pay Rs 2900 for it. GST will have to be paid separately on booking of rooms. Food prices have also been increased by up to 15 per cent. The new rates of food have been implemented from 1st April.
Due to the increase in the price of edible oil, gas cylinders, petrol and diesel, private sector hotel, restaurant and dhaba operators have already increased the prices of food items by 15 to 20 percent. Anil Taneja, deputy general manager of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, says that the new rates for overnight stay in the corporation’s hotels will be applicable from April 15. These rates will be fixed at the unit level. He said that the new rates of food and drink have been implemented from April 1. It is noteworthy that due to the scorching heat in the plains, tourists from other states including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are turning to the mountains. In such a situation, the effect of rising inflation will now also affect the tourists.
On the other hand group tours from Gujarat to Shimla have also registered a dip as most travel agents have dropped the city from their preferred itinerary due to transportation-related problems and heavy traffic in Himachal’s capital. Only about 1,200 bookings were made by Gujarati tourists in first 10 days of April this year as against 2,600 in 2019. Travel agents are now diverting tourists to J&K and Uttarakhand.
“Buses are not allowed in the city during the day till 9 pm and there is no arrangement for pre-paid taxis to drop tourists to hotels. Most hotels lack parking facilities, causing harassment to tourists,” said Gujarat Travel Association joint secretary Mayank. “Thousands of tourists in groups used to visit Shimla but now we have stopped getting these buses due to the inconvenience faced by tourists,” said Mayank. Moreover, the tax on buses has been raised from Rs 10,000 per month to Rs 5,000 per day. The bus tours have become very expensive, he rued. “Last Christmas due to heavy rush, even small vehicles were not allowed in the city. Tourists were really disappointed as they were unable to visit the Mall Road, which is a big attraction. Now we are not taking any interest in promoting Shimla,” he added.
The groups from Gujarat contributed to 60 per cent of the total occupancy in Shimla during April and May. This has been reduced to about 20 per cent as travel agents have boycotted Shimla and diverted tourists to Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, said Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association president M K Seth. Shimla was also considered a tourist gateway to the state as most tourists start their tour from the city and then proceeded to other destinations in Himachal. Seth said there was a dire need for pre-paid taxi service and parking for tourist coaches. Low lodging capacity, high rates and traffic woes in the city have led to a negative image and, as a result, the demand and queries for Shimla have reduced, Gayatri Narendram of Vivekananda Travels in Kerala said, adding that tourists now preferred Manali over Shimla.