Tourists throng Shimla to ring in New Year

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 31

The imposition of restrictions in some states following the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the tourism industry of Shimla. The hotels in the capital city are packed with nearly 100 per cent occupancy.

Tourists in a large number have arrived in the city to ring in New Year and local hoteliers are doing tremendous business. The famous tourist resort of Kufri, besides the Mall Road and The Ridge are overcrowded. However, local people are a bit scared as tourists have a free entry to the state and hotel employees are working under the lurking fear of contracting Covid.

"The hotel occupancy in Shimla is about 100 per cent and the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are being followed. Thermal screening of tourists is being done, rooms are being sanitised before allotment and we are following no mask no service policy," said Ashwani Sood, an office-bearer of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association.

A poster released by the Shimla police. Tribune photo

Seats in all trains coming from Kalka to Shimla with a capacity of 1,600 to 1,800 persons per day were fully booked till the first week of January, said Joginder Singh, Shimla Railway Station Superintendent.

"The hotel occupancy is nearly 100 per cent but despite bookings tourists are unable to reach hotels located on the Victory tunnel-Auckland stretch as traffic has been diverted via the new ISBT-Khalini route from Tutikandi," said MK Seth, president of the Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association. He added that the hotel industry had got no relief from the government in view of the Covid pandemic and the diversion of traffic from the main city would further dent the business of about 50 hotels located en route.

Meanwhile, the Shimla police have come up with an innovative poster, which it has been circulated on the social networking site .The poster reads: This New Year eve, try not to be our guests, free entry for rash drivers, drunk drivers, public smokers, mask violators and other eligible violators ndash; special performance by Shimla police ndash; on the menu fine/ challans.

Over 5,000 vehicles entered Shimla from 8 am to 8 pm today. Due to the heavy tourist inflow, traffic was moving at a snail's pace, said SP, Shimla, Monika Bhutungru. Additional police force had been deployed to manage rush on The Mall Road, and The Ridge, besides regulating traffic, she added.

Due to the heavy rush, restricted roads near the AG Chowk, Kennedy Chowk, Chaura Maidan, Shimla Club and the Navbahar Chowk had been opened for vehicle parking.

Intel inputs on threat by Pak-based entity

  • The district administration got The Mall Road and The Ridge vacated on Friday night around 8pm following inputs from intelligence agencies that a Pakistan-based entity was planning a bomb blast at The Ridge on New Year
  • The Ridge, which was flooded with New Year revellers, wore a deserted look at night and police officials along with patrolling vehicles were deployed in strength
  • Earlier the administration said people had been dispersed in view of the impending threat of spread of Omicron. The Ridge had been vacated in the wake of Covid-19, said DC Aditya Negi
Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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