Saturday, 16 March 2013

No flights to Himachal: Manali may see fall in foreign tourists’ arrival

Himachal Vacation Travel News
MANALI/SHIMLA: Manali may witness a big drop in arrival of foreign tourists this year as no flight connectivity is forcing them to change their destinations, travel agents in Manali claim.
A plane at Kullu-Manali airport in Bhuntar (file photo)
Problems of high end tourism industry of Manali does not seem ending as the hill town continues suffering losses worth over Rs 15 lakh every day only due to unavailability of flights. As there is no flight operating to Kullu airport since September, the industry has already suffered losses worth over 15 crore and now dark clouds are hovering over summer season which is starting from April 15.
Travel agents say foreign clients are cancelling their tour plans to Manali for coming days. Manali travel agent association president Anil Sharma said, “Our regular clients from abroad who are in contact with us only ask for the status of flight on Delhi-Kullu route. As nobody is sure about the flight connectivity status in summer season and tourists want to be sure about their advance booking, most of the cream tourists are cancelling their plans. Very few tourists would reach here this year.”
The star category hotels in Manali are also suffering the brunt of indefinite cancellation of flights. Hoteliers claim only budgeted tourists are reaching here and many of their clients cancelled their bookings in winter season. “Nobody wants to suffer the hectic surface journey of 14 hours from Delhi. Booking in most of the luxury hotels to a far extent depends on flight connectivity,” an hotelier Rajesh Thakur said.
Tourism entrepreneurs in Manali say cancellation of only one available flight would continue causing losses worth Rs 15 lakh every day to tourism industry of Manali. As most of the high end tourists from abroad are planning their tour to Himachal for trekking and various adventure activities, the negative reply from tour operators regarding flight booking is diverting them to other destinations.
“It is amazing that the 48-seater plane that used to operate sorties to Manali never landed with empty seats. Even Kullu airport is capable of handling multi-sorties between April and July. But, nobody is interested in this sector,” Anil Sharma said.

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