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Despite meltdown, Shimla hoteliers expect tourist inflow to rise

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS,

Shimla : The financial meltdown and the Mumbai terror attacks have had little impact on Shimla’s holiday tourism, and hotel room bookings have begun picking up for the yearend, hoteliers say.

Hotel owners in the picturesque hill town admit that tourist flow declined immediately after the terror strikes, but say the situation has started improving.

V.K. Sharma, owner of Mannat Hotel in Shimla, said inquiries for room bookings for the Dec 20-31 period start pouring in from the beginning of the month every year, and by Dec 15, all the rooms are usually booked. This hasn’t been the case this year.

“Only 50 percent of the rooms have been booked so far for this period, but we are expecting this will pick up in the coming days,” Sharma told IANS.

Sanjay Madan, owner of East Bourne Pine Forest Resorts, seems to have been luckier.

“Immediately after the Mumbai attacks, there was some cancellation of reservations made by some of our Mumbai guests, but over the last one week, all our 48 rooms have been booked,” he said.

And now, Madan is looking at the yearend tourist flow.

“We have offered special Christmas and New Year packages for our clients and already 75 percent of our rooms have been booked from Dec 20 to Dec 31,” said Madan.

Car parking is a major problem for tourists who drive up to Shimla. To woo them, Madan’s resort has arranged for parking space for 100 cars and 12 buses within the premises.

Guests will also be advised to remain indoors instead of venturing out.

“We have everything inside our resort – terrace garden, rose garden, well-stocked bar, multi-cuisine restaurants, discotheque, library, swimming pool and over 100-year-old oak and deodar trees surrounding the resort. There is no apparent need to go out.”

Anil Walia, managing director of Himland Resort, too expects domestic tourists to make a beeline for Shimla. “Recent incidents may deter foreign tourists, but very few foreigners visit Shimla during this time. Our main clientele is from the domestic sector,” he said.

“Ninety percent of our 30 rooms have already been booked from December 20-31. We all ready to welcome the New Year,” Walia told IANS.

A senior official of The Holiday Home, a four-star hotel run by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp, said there has been no big slump in the flow of tourists. “Almost all our 70 rooms have been booked from Dec 25 to 31. To entertain our guests, we have arranged special New Year’s celebrations,” the official said.