Hoteliers in Shimla had high hopes for the Christmas and New Year season but were left disappointed with an abrupt drop in arrivals in the city. It is 31st December, the premium night for hoteliers in Shimla but many hotels reported vacancy at the time of filing of this report.
Dip in arrivals in the city started from December 25, 2009 when the four day Christmas weekend started. Hoteliers were expecting a great rush of tourists but were left disappointed as very few hotels did 100% occupancy. Contrary to the popular belief that the tourists would stay for minimum three nights, most of the tourists left on the third day.
There was nothing for the tourists to hold them in the city for three days. Neither it snowed during this period nor any tourist attractions has been developed around Shimla.
While touring the city on December 29th and 30th I found most of the hotels were doing 50% occupancy. December 25 – December 31st is the peak tourist time in the city when all hotels from Shoghi to Naldehra and Kufri, Fagu, Chail used to report 100% occupancy.
This year it has been a reverse story during this period. A random enquiry made at all major hotels in Shimla hotels for a requirement of 3 rooms (at 7.45 pm on December 31st) confirmed availability of rooms in these hotels including the HPTDC owned Holiday Home. While earlier the hotels had announced mandatory high priced packages for the new year eve , today the rooms were being offered on heavy discounts and without any packages. During previous years getting a room at the last moment was next to impossible as all good hotels used to get packed well in advance.
By evening tourist crowd did appear in Shimla, but they were mostly overnight revelers who mostly leave by tomorrow morning. Hotels in budget category in Lakkar Bazaar, Jakhu and US Club area have reported full occupancy though.
Other tourist destinations have reported good business with Manali taking the cake this year. Hotels have reported good business from December 22 onwards as tourists have been thronging this hill town in hordes. Recent snowfall at Rohtang and Solang Nallah have been a major attraction for tourists arriving into Manali. Dharamshala and Dalhousie also reported good business during this weekend.
This is a worrisome trend which will keep Shimla hoteliers on their toes for the upcoming weekends. In the new year none of the weekends coincide with major holidays. The next peak weekend in Shimla used to be 26th January, which again this year does not fall on a regular weekend.
Shimla as a tourist season has constantly been loosing it’s business value over the years from tourism point of view. An overall increase in the city limits without any planned tourist infrastructure and an unorganised tourism trade controlled and run by local coolies and guides is ultimately proving it’s downfall.
Final nail in the coffin has been absence of snowfall during Christmas / New Year period for the past few years.