Shimla Sees Record 40-Year Drop In Hotel Occupancy On New Year's Eve

Prediction of weekend snow and the Chief Minister's directions to not be harsh with drunk revelers on New Year failed to woo tourists to Shimla which recorded a 50-60 per cent occupancy - "the lowest in the last 40 years".

Shimla Sees Record 40-Year Drop In Hotel Occupancy On New Year's Eve

Prediction of weekend snow and the Chief Minister's directions to not be harsh with drunk revelers on New Year failed to woo tourists to Shimla which recorded a 50-60 per cent occupancy - "the lowest in the last 40 years".

Last year, Shimla recorded over 80 per cent occupancy on New Year. The hotel and allied industries were pinning hopes on a 'white New Year' but chances of snowfall are very bleak.

While the Mall Road and The Ridge in the heart of the city are abuzz with tourists as winter carnival turned the place into a fair with lights and cultural bonanza, footfall has not converted in room occupancy in hotels, said Shimla Hotel and Tourism Stakeholders Association president MK Seth.

The occupancy is about 50-60 per cent which is the lowest in the last 40 years and even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the New Year tourist rush was more than this, he told PTI.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has directed the police to follow 'Atithi Devo Bhava', and facilitate tourists and make adequate arrangements in all districts for the smooth flow of traffic.

Besides allowing food joints and pan shops to remain open 24x7, he said drunk tourists will not be arrested, but will be taken to their hotels by the cops to ensure their New Year experience is not spoiled.

The unregistered tourism units are eating into the sales of registered hotels, home stays and other such accommodations, said Mr Seth, adding that the tourists coming by train and luxury buses are "captured" by touts who take them to unregistered accommodations.

"We are surprised to see such a drop in tourist inflow when all things are favourable. This is the lowest occupancy in my living memory" said vice president of the association Prince Kukreja, hoping that the occupancy would pick up by late evening.

A large number of tourists prefer isolated accommodations in the suburbs with forest cover and peace, and those planning private parties are also going beyond the city, said local hotelier Shishu, adding that even the hotels in the main town, normally packed during this time, are not packed to capacity.

About 7,600 tourists vehicles from other states have come to Shimla via Shoghi barrier on the Shimla-Chandigarh Road from Saturday morning (8 am) to Sunday afternoon (12 pm), SP Shimla Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told PTI today.

The tourism stakeholders added that adverse publicity on social media and some electronic channels regarding traffic jams diverted tourists to other destinations.

The local Met office predicted snowfall and rainfall at isolated places in high-and-mid hills on Saturday and Sunday as a fresh Western Disturbance lies over the Himalayan region. However, no snowfall was witnessed in the key tourist resorts.