Tourists trapped in Ladakh flash floods

August 6th, 2010 - 6:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Several tourists, including foreign visitors, are reported to be stranded in Leh as air links have been snapped after massive flash floods hit the area.
Travel agents are worried over the impact of the disaster on a good tourist season.

A huge cloudburst struck the town around midnight Thursday, triggering flash floods and mud slides, and washing away buildings and flooding the airport.

Ramesh Kutti, of Leh-Ladakh Tours, is busy trying to get in touch with his clients and other travel agents in the mountainous region. “Twenty-five of our clients, including 10 foreign tourists, were holidaying in Leh. We have no news of them as of now due to disruption of telephone facility,” Kutti told IANS.

Similarly, Amrit Mann of Mann’s Tours and Travels is also worried about his clients and has not been able to get in touch with them since morning. “My clients, a family of three, were supposed to take a flight back to Delhi this morning, but due to the disaster they stayed back in their hotel,” said Mann.

“I was able to contact them in the morning at 7 a.m. We know they are safe and so is their hotel,” said Mann.

Ladakh is becoming popular as a tourist destination, both among foreign and domestic tourists. The current tourist season has witnessed a healthy number of visitors to the region.

Travel agents are worried that unless transport and communication links are restored, their business would be hit.

“We had around 250 bookings for the entire season from April-September. I still have 150 bookings left. I have not had any cancellation so far, but I hope communication will be restored soon,” he said.

Mann also said that Ladakh was growing more popular than traditional holiday hill stations like Mussoorie, Kulu and Manali. “We are a little afraid that business may decline towards the end of the season which is till September due to disruption in air and road communication,” he said.

However, Aneesh Sehgal of A2Z travel planners does not feel that the number of visitors will decline in the coming weeks. “It (Leh) is for those who love travelling and are adventurous. Climbing rugged mountains takes a lot of energy,” said Sehgal.

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