November 22, 2022
NEW DELHI – After a two-year slump due to Covid-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh has seen a huge spike in tourist footfalls this year. Data from the Tourism Department shows that 1.28 crore visitors including 28,233 foreigners landed in the state between January 1 and October 31.
The report indicated that the state had 41.03 lakh tourists during the same time last year. The month of June reported 20.63 lakh visitors as compared to 7.69 lakh in January.
In the first 10 months of 2022, the footfall in the twin districts of Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti was pegged at 30.4 lakh or 23.8 per cent of the total footfalls. Another popular destination for tourists is the Atal Tunnel, an all-weather road that cuts through 13,058-foot-high mountains at Rohtang Pass. Tourists are flocking to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti.
“People, who remained indoors during Covid-19 pandemic, have finally begun moving out,” said Amit Kashyap, Director, Tourism and Managing Director, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC). He also credited social media film promotion for the increase in tourists.
Sports involving snow and adventure are popular in Kullu and Manali. The ‘Shakti Peeths’ at Kangra, Bilaspur, Una, Sirmaur, and Mandi, also referred to as ‘Chhoti Kaashi’ for its historic Shiva temples have seen an increase in number of visitors. Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, and Chamba are popular destinations for adventure seekers and foreign visitors, he added.
Manali Hoteliers’ Association president Mukesh Thakur said that the Atal Tunnel had significantly increased tourist traffic. According to him, Manali will be completely booked from December 20 to January 10. He also stated that the winter carnival, which begins on January 2, is another highly anticipated event.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused significant losses for the tourism sector as visitor arrivals decreased by 81 per cent in 2020. 1.72 crore tourists arrived in 2019 but the number plummeted to around 32 lakhs in 2020, slightly increasing to about 57 lakhs in 2021.
Former general secretary of the Manali Taxi Union, Kishore Thakur said that Covid-19 pandemic had badly affected the taxi sector. Many had to sell out their taxis since they were unable to pay the monthly installment to the banks but the condition is improving now, he said.