No flights keep high end tourists away from Kullu-Manali
MANALI/ SHIMLA: Problems of mangled tourism industry of Kullu-Manali
seems not to be finishing soon as the industry which is already suffering slump
is irritating high end tourists with no flight connectivity.
Heavy to normal
monsoon, cloudbursts, Rohtang pass environment issue, agitations by local
traders and taxi operators have already bled the tourism here. Now suspension of
flights has put Kullu-Manali tourism on back-foot. High end tourists are
avoiding this beautiful hill station which is approachable only by 10-hour
hectic road journey from Chandigarh and 15-hour journey from Delhi.
Saying that
landing on congested runways of Kullu and Shimla could be dangerous amid heavy
fog and bad weather, Air India suspended its flights till mid September. Hoteliers
and those who are associated with tourism industry feel cheated by government
which had resumed flights to Kullu and Shimla only for vote bank and to shut
the mouth of agitating public in mid-May this year.
“We have again
no flight connectivity till September. Light fog is normal thing on the
mountains and flights used to land throughout the monsoon here. But what
happened this year when most of the time weather is crystal clear in Kullu,”
Manali travel agent association president Anil Sharma said who believes
everything is going wrong in Manali. He claims that 90% of the tourists to
Ladakh are going by flights only and remaining 10% are going by roads from
Manali and Srinagar. “We are losing our high end clients. Why government is
having difficulty to convince private airlines to give their services?”
This is peak
trekking season in Himachal Pradesh and majority of clients are from abroad.
Most of the foreigner guests avoid surface transport and prefer taking flights
from Delhi. Travel agents claim that such clients are preferring going to Ladakh, Srinagar or North East states which are well connected by airlines.
It is again over
hundred taxi operators outside Kullu airport at Bhuntar who are suffering the
brunt of no flight connectivity. These cabbies have parked their vehicles
outside the airport and are back to agricultural works. “Suspending of flights
has led many poor cabbies to sell their cars. Similar situation was seen before
May 15 when we had no passengers due to no flights,” Bhuntar taxi operators
union president Deewan Singh Guleria said.

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The Himalayan

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