A haven for those seeking respite from the scorching heat prevailing in other parts of the country, Shimla has enjoyed considerable tourist footfall in recent months. A major hill station famous for being the summer capital of British India, the city reportedly welcomed over 72 lakh tourists between January and May this year.
While the boost to State’s revenues is an obvious benefit to all tourism stakeholders, the influx does cause acute traffic congestion along certain stretches during peak season as many choose to make road trips in their private cars.
According to the Director Tourism Department of Himachal Pradesh, from January to May, over 72 lakh tourists arrived in the region. “Pre-Covid years, we had an annual number of [about] 1,70,00,000 tourists but during the Covid years, it [dropped to] 32 lakh before bucking up to 57 lakh. Last year, we received 1-crore-and-51-lakh tourists. It shows that we have revived tourism in the State with aggressive marketing and other strategies.
“This year, we have received 72 lakh tourists till May and by June end, we are executing a huge footfall. [Over] the recent weekend, we had a good footfall. And by June-end the number of tourist arrivals would be satisfactory,” Amit Kashyap said. While admitting that the foreigner contingent has not risen this year, he remained optimistic about the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation’s (HPTDC) prospects in the near future.
“In Shimla, we have nearly 70% of people, and on weekends the occupancy in HPTDC hotels and in Manali [goes all the way up to] 100%,” he added.
For many who live in neighbouring States, the hill town of Shimla offers a second home to enjoy the summers. According to Shrishti Sahu, a tourist from Delhi: “I came here on Saturday. There are lots of crowds, prices are high, the weather is good and it is a very nice experience. I am from Delhi; there we live in AC, and it is chilling here.”
Presumably to avoid the crowds, some prefer to set up base in the outskirts of the Himachal capital.
“I am from Punjab; it is a very good place. I have done my studies in Shimla. We are staying in Kufri — there is so much rush here and tourists are shifting to the outskirts of Shimla,” says another tourist, Saloni, from Punjab.
“We came here three days ago [during] a festival and a large numbers of tourists were here. The weather is very pleasant here. I [often come] to Shimla, and it is good to be here,” says Gaurav, a tourist from Chandigarh.
As per data available with the State tourism department in 2019, over 1,72,00,000 tourists including nearly 4,00,000 foreign tourists visited the State, with a jump of nearly 5% in comparison to the year 2018. During the year 2021, a total of 56,37,102 tourists visited India.
The Himachal Pradesh tourism sector generates ₹11,000 crore annually and constitutes 7.3% of the State’s Gross Domestic Product.