Thousands throng Himachal Pradesh for New Year

December 31st, 2008 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Priyanka ChopraShimla, Dec 31 (IANS) Thousands of tourists, mainly from northern states, thronged popular tourist spots across Himachal Pradesh to celebrate the New Year, and several hotels in the state have reported full occupancy, tourism industry members said Wednesday.”More than 300 hotels in Shimla are packed to capacity,” Harnam Kukreja, president of Shimla Hoteliers and Restaurants Association, told IANS.

“For the first time this year, the occupancy in hotels is over 90 percent,” he said.

According to the state tourism department, over 50,000 tourists, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi reached Shimla and nearby tourist spots on Wednesday.

Tourism Secretary Manisha Nanda said the absence of snowfall had not affected the arrival of tourists this season too.

Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation’s hotels at Shimla, Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda, Barog, Kiarighat and Chail also had a large number of advance bookings for the New Year.

“Like previous years, this year too the occupancy in our hotel is 100 percent on the last day of the year,” said D.P. Bhatia. general manager of Clarke’s Hotel.

Manali, another popular tourist spot, also saw a heavy rush of tourists.

“More than 40,000 tourists have reached Manali for their New Year bash. Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra is among the tourists,” Mehar Chand Thakur, a prominent travel agent in Manali, said over telephone.

He added that most tourists planned to visit the Solang Valley and Kothi, near Manali, to see and play snow.

According to Shimla’s meteorological office, the town experienced snowfall Dec 31 in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2002.

“The heaviest snowfall recorded in the hill town was 105 cm on the last day of 1990,” said meteorological director Manmohan Singh.

He said that the sky would remain clear and it would be sunny in the coming few days.

Kullu and Manali have emerged as hotspots for foreigners. Last year, around 100,000 foreign tourists visited the two towns and the region around.

Tourist arrivals in Himachal last year surpassed the state’s population of about 6.5 million.

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