Hotel occupancy up 80% in Kullu-Manali

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Mandi: With a huge tourist influx, hotel occupancy in Kullu-Manali has gone up to 80 per cent. Hopeful of a “white New Year”, people from far-off places, even abroad, are making a beeline for the picturesque hills.

Revellers are all excited to ring in New Year amid snowfall. On Christmas, the weather remained dry, which affected the business of hoteliers. But with the Met office predicting snow and rain, their hopes have rekindled.

Vijay Thakur, a hotelier in Manali, said: “Snow is a major attraction for tourists here. We hope it snows tomorrow and if it doesn’t, there are places like Solang and Gulaba, which are still covered under a thick layer of snow. So, the visitors won’t be disappointed.” Kullu SP Gaurav Singh said: “To avoid chaos, police personnel have been deployed to regulate traffic at key locations and to keep a tab on anti-social elements, vigil has been stepped up.”

Kullu-Manali is abuzz with activity these days. A large number of tourists are thronging the Solang valley to enjoy snow, horse-riding and paragliding.

The Mall Road in Manali too remains crowded. The Hidimba Devi temple is also a major attraction in Manali, where one can see long queues of devotees in the morning and evening. Anup Thakur, president, Hoteliers Association, Kullu-Manali, said: “Hoteliers are making the most of the snow season. Heavy rush has been witnessed in the past three days. We are expecting room occupancy to go up to 90 per cent in hotels on New Year’s Eve.” He said the winter carnival would start on January 2 and end on January 6. “The tourists can enjoy cultural events and the flavour of local dishes if they extend their stay,” Anup said.