The long weekend from September 30 to October 2 recorded over 70 per cent occupancy in hotels here, marking the beginning of the revival of tourism in the state capital.
"The situation is improving. The room occupancy went over 70 per cent this weekend. We are hopeful that the tourist rush will increase in the coming days with the Shimla flying festival – a paragliding accuracy competition — which is going to be held in Junga in the suburbs of Shimla from October 12 to 15," Shimla Hotel and Tourism Stakeholders Association President MK Seth told The PTI on Tuesday.
He said the starting of flights between Shimla and Amritsar on November 1 would further boost tourist footfall.
Seth said he wants to advertise Shimla as a "treasure" of tourism activities and has plans to set up facilities for water sports in Sunni and adventure sports in Kufri.
The opening of roads and resumption of the train service on the UNESCO heritage Kalka-Shimla railway has opened the floodgates for booking inquiries, said another hotelier Sushant Nag.
Tourists from West Bengal and Maharashtra often visit Shimla and other tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh from September 15 to November 15, while tourists from Gujarat also make a beeline to hill stations from September onwards, but the imposition of tax on buses registered outside the state is discouraging tour operators from coming to Himachal, said a tourism industry insider.
The association members have urged the state government to roll back the tax on entry of tourist buses and tempo travellers registered outside the state to help the tourism industry prop itself back up, having suffered grave financial losses in the monsoon season.
Luxury buses registered in other states running in Himachal Pradesh without permission (without paying tax) are being charged Rs 5,000 per day.
The tourism sector lost more than Rs 2,000 crore as heavy rain triggered 169 landslides and 72 flashfloods blocking hundreds of roads in July and August with hotel occupancy going down to zero to 2 per cent.
More than 304 people have died in rain-related incidents since the onset of the monsoon on June 24, according to the government.
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu claimed that the state suffered losses of Rs 12,000 crore this monsoon.