Tourism in Spiti has suffered major drop in number of tourists who are fearing their safety in tribal mountains following landslides and heavy rains this month.
Chandertal, Kibber, Kaza, Losar, Nako, Tabo, Kunzum pass, Dhankar monastery, Kungri Gompa and Thang Yug gompa are the main tourist destination in Spiti, the cold desert of Himachal. Due to snowfall and frequent landslides on connecting roads to Spiti, tourists, mostly domestic, are not daring to visit this hill resort. Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti which is well known as the first choice of foreigners, is recording a major drop in tourists this year.
“My jeep and clients trapped between snows at Chandertal for six days,” said Pritam Thakur, a driver, adding, “I had to bring my clients, all trekkers, to Manali from Chandertal on August 14 but snowfall blocked all the highways. We camped in Chandertal for two days and reached Rohtnang on August 16. Another landslide had blocked the highway here. Having no other option, my clients had to walk on foot but my jeep could reach Manali on August 20. Many tourists fear only with the name of Spiti.”
Being blocked for a while after landslides, Spiti-Kinnaur highway remains operational for most of the time but tourists prefer a round trip of Manali-Spiti-Kinnaur which covers all the attractions of cold deserts. In such if landslide or snowfall blocks highway at any place, tourists have no other option than to wait for its reopening. Otherwise, they will have to travel back on the same route for many days in vain.
A shopkeeper in Kaza, Satpal Mahajan, said landslides and rains are posing threat to the tourism, ruining season in the second consecutive year. Recalling last year’s season, Mahajan said, “Incessant rains had ruined last year’s tourism season in Spiti and again this year many tourists have cancelled their bookings. For many residents, seasonal tourism is the only source of income but weather has stood against us again.”
Tourism in Spiti begins after June and ends in October. Residents have only five months to cash the tourism. Once the season is over, connecting roads to this beautiful valley will acquire a blanket of snow for next six months.